Almost a decade ago, Marine veteran Jesse Porras noticed a number of people in his hometown who needed a leg up. "I saw a lot of people that were just in corners and they needed some kind of shelter which I couldn’t provide,” he says. But the one thing he knew he could provide was a hot meal. So on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Porras served up a free Thanksgiving dinner to anyone in his community that needed it.
Year after year, Porras has kept up the tradition and this week marked the ninth year that he’s hosted the free Thanksgiving dinner. Abuela's Kitchen hosted the event this year and it was open to anyone in the community. Porras says he gets lots of appreciation from the people that they serve and many of them will try and donate money to him for the event, but he won’t take it. “I really don’t want donations. I just want them to be happy,” he says. “If they're happy, I'm happy.”
At this year’s dinner, they served almost five-hundred meals and even delivered some meals to people who couldn’t make it to the restaurant. Porras says he’ll keep up the tradition for as long as he can and that what he gets from the dinner makes it all worthwhile. And the Marine vet has this advice for everyone this Thanksgiving, “Always [give] thank[s] and be grateful for what you got because the world keeps going if you're here or not … so be grateful.”