This year, he is gearing up to do the same, and is encouraging people in the community to donate canned food, turkey and other items.
Griffin, a former drug addict who said he was at one point homeless himself, started the organization in 1991, according to its website. He said he decided he wanted to do something for others.
Griffin said the idea for the dinner started in February 1990 when he held a food and clothing drive at Middleton Tavern downtown. He said donations of food and clothing from the community quickly began to pile up.
“It was unbelievable,” Griffin said.
The idea expanded and around that time, he started We Care and Friends. According to a recent email from the organization, Griffin does not draw a salary from his work with the organization apart from a stipend used for an administrative assistant.
In November 1990, he held the first Thanksgiving dinner at the American Legion. That event started with about 600 people.
In recent years, Griffin said the organization has benefitted around 3,000 people through its annual Thanksgiving outreach. That includes the dinner, which now takes place at the Stanton Community Center and the meals and Thanksgiving baskets they deliver to the elderly and sick who can’t make it out to the event.
“It grows every year,” Griffin said.
This year’s dinner takes place Monday night from 4 to 8 p.m. Griffin said each year more area restaurants get involved, donating vegetables and different dishes. He said the volunteers, who work in shifts of about 50 at a time, also help make it possible.
Griffin said this year’s event will include a disc jockey and a gospel group for entertainment, as well as fun activities for the kids.
“We want to put a smile on some people’s faces,” Griffin said.
In addition to gearing up for Monday’s dinner, the folks at We Care and Friends, are preparing Thanksgiving baskets to deliver to homes next week. They’ll start packing up the baskets on Tuesday and deliver them starting Wednesday, Griffin said.
He said the organization is collecting donations at the Stanton Community Center through Sunday evening. He said they are collecting canned items—anything that goes with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
But the biggest item they need is the most essential part of a Thanksgiving meal—the turkey itself.
Visit the organization’s website for more information about We Care and Friends, its impact on the community and this year’s events.