What began as a humble idea to feed a few local families for Thanksgiving has grown into in a community outreach program that feeds more than 1,000 needy families across the D.C. region.
Saturday morning, an army of some 500 volunteers worked to assemble Thanksgiving food boxes at Columbia Heights Educational Campus in Northwest, D.C. Besides a turkey dinner, the boxes contain two-weeks worth of food.
Ransom Miller III started Project Giveback 18 years ago.
“There’s such a need in our community. You have people who literally used to write us a check every year, who are finding themselves in need,” he says. And that motivates him even more.
Hardisha Miller, Ransom Miller’s wife, is vice president of Project Giveback. She says the organization has evolved from helping just one or two families. This year, their goal is to help 1,100.
She says the face of hunger has changed and, sadly, it has multiplied.
“From the homeless man on the street or someone in the shelter to our neighbors, our co-workers, the people we go to church with,” Hardisha Miller says.
The couple’s 11-year-old son has been part of Project Giveback his entire life. His mother says for her son, it is second nature to give back.
“Hopefully he’ll be running Project Giveback one day,” she says.
For seven years, Patrick Stewart has volunteered with Project Giveback. He says the work is humbling. Not only does it help feed those in need, but it helps feed his soul.
Stewart recalls his first experience making a Project Giveback food delivery. He says you could tell that the family was in need and the father hugged him.
“It almost had me in tears. And I really appreciate that moment and said I’m always going to be a part of this or an organization like this,” Stewart says.
Hugs continued to be a part of the volunteers’ work Saturday. But this time a guest celebrity, who was there to encourage and thank the volunteers, was the one handing out the hugs.
Omarosa Manigault, who competed on Donald Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” attended this year’s Project Giveback. Manigault says she made sure she hugged all the volunteers.
“I believe that even passing the hug onto the families that are receiving the food is sometimes just enough to show this holiday spirit goes beyond giving turkeys. It’s about giving compassion and giving love.”