As an eleven-year old boy growing up in South Texas, Thanksgiving’s Heroes, LLC founder, Rob Adams was the oldest child in a family of six. Although he vividly recalls being a happy and loved child, the memories of living out of the family truck in Porter, an unincorporated part of Houston Texas, are equally strong.
Life in poverty was a challenge for Adams and his family, as it is for many. He had two outfits, one for church and one for school. The family lived together in their pickup truck. Once every few weeks, they would go stay at a motel for a day, taking advantage of the opportunity to get what little clothing they had cleaned. Although life was a challenge, he didn’t think of himself as poor or young, he just recalled being a happy child living life in a different way than others.
Every year, millions of school children in American rely on public schools to be able to eat lunch. For many of these children, this lunch is their only guaranteed meal of the day. Adams himself was one of these children.
For him, school was a blessing, not necessarily for the teachers or the education or the support, but specifically because he knew he would be fed. He knew school was where he’d be guaranteed at least a lunch for the day.
The roots of Thanksgiving’s Heroes are firmly grown from his experiences as a child.
Christmas was just around the corner. South Texas weather had turned cold and chilly. Another family, the Christianson’s, came to the Adams’ truck, and brought them to their house in Kingwood, Texas, about 12 miles away.
Pulling up, Adams could see the picture-perfect house, with wide-open windows revealing a stunning Christmas tree, just like in the movies. The Christianson’s were leaving for the holidays and offered the Adams family to stay in their house while they were away.
They had stocked the fridge, with everything from turkey to pumpkin pie. They’d left presents for Adams and his siblings, with clothing and new socks. They’d left their entire home open to this family, no strings attached. It was this kindness and generosity of spirit that left a mark on Adams.
At eleven years old, Adams knew this was something he wanted to pay forward when he grew up. To be able to replicate such an overwhelming gesture for others was a reward in and of itself.
Years later, Adams found himself dealing with the confronting challenge of facing his mother’s own diagnosis of brain cancer. She reminded him of this dream of his to help other families and wanted to see him follow through on it. This was just the push he needed.
More inspired than ever, Adams reached out to friends, family, local schools, anyone he could get to help on this project. He got it out on social media. He set a goal of feeding ten families that year. His goal was more than met.
That first year, the organization fed 755 families. 755 families receiving twenty-pound turkeys. 755 families taking home ten-pound bags of potatoes. 755 gallons of milk. Each set includes enough food to feed a family of five for days.
The event brought about such a strong sense of community, from friends, strangers, local schools, community members alike, that Adams knew this couldn’t be the only year. It reminded people, in a time when many of us feel so disconnected, that strangers helping strangers is inspiring. That doing good for others is doing good for ourselves. That kindness is the easiest thing to pay forward.
Six years later, the foundation continues strong. With thousands of families fed, to date, Adams feels more inspired than ever to continue the tradition.