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Thanksgiving meal from deputies a ‘blessing’ for many

November 22, 2018

Collin Clemons and his wife lost their jobs just weeks before Thanksgiving.

“Me and my wife, we lost our job a couple weeks ago because they had downsized our company and we work at the same place,” Clemons said. “We didn’t know how we were going to be able to take care of this since this happened. The unemployment (benefits are) only so much.”

With children to take care of and Thanksgiving around the corner, Clemons was grateful when Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office stepped in to make sure his family had a meal for the holiday through the Operation Turkey Day initiative.

Constable Mark Herman and deputies visited homes on Wednesday, delivering food to families struggling financially.

Operation Turkey Day has been an annual tradition of the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office for 15 to 20 years, said Herman. The goal is to ensure families like the Clemons’ are able to have a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

“A lot of these people out here don’t have the resources to have good Thanksgivings and good Christmases, and as good stewards to our community we want to do this to give back,” Herman said. “This is an opportunity for us at Pct. 4 to give back to the less fortunate in our community. We will be delivering 40 to 50 turkey dinners with all of the trimmings to our citizens.”

The meals included oven-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey gravy, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, a bottle of soda and a pumpkin pie. After the food deliveries were complete, the agency stated in a news release that six to eight families had benefited from this year’s meal distribution.

Beneficiaries of Operation Turkey Day are selected by Precinct 4 officers, Herman said.

“We have our deputies that work in communities and know these folks and work with them on a daily basis,” Herman said. “They were basically identified that way. We probably could have gotten more than what we had but we’re limited on resources.”

The event was largely funded by John Peacock with Sunrise Helicopters, Inc., who fully funded 40 dinners this year and in past years. To help cover other costs, Herman said he uses his own personal funds and that no county funds were used to buy the dinners.

“I can tell you that our deputies’ hearts are bigger than their badges when it comes to stuff like this, and we do a lot of community outreach programs throughout the year,” Herman said.

Several recipient families expressed their gratitude upon receiving a full meal, including Ruth Espinoza, who said she and her daughter Kimberly Frias were not expecting as much food as they received.

“I am happy,” she said. “It’s a good experience. I was not expecting so much.”

For one of Herman’s deputy constables, Lucas Paige, getting to help community members made the experience worthwhile. Paige delivered dinners to both Espinoza and Clemons.

“It’s a cool way to give back to them, the community,” he said.

Paige delivered dinners to Espinoza, as well as to Clemons, who said he is thankful for the constable’s delivery of the Thanksgiving dinner a day before the holiday.

“It’s just a blessing for us to be able to use this,” Clemons said. “We had to downsize to a one-bedroom townhome. We have kids. We’re really just very lucky to have this and just so thankful.”

chevall.pryce@chron.com

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