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'I'm grateful': People without a home get a warm meal, shoes and clothing on Thanksgiving

For 16 years, 'Champions for the Homeless' has provided a warm meal, clothing and shoes for the Valley's homeless community.

PHOENIX — Everything that David Taylor owns is inside his backpack.

He moved to Arizona from California about a year ago but found himself without a home months after.

“I was only able to afford a hotel for three weeks and after that, it just went all downhill,” he said.

Taylor has family in Mesa, but he said he didn’t want to be a burden on them, so he took to the streets.

Despite the hardships that come with not having a permanent home, Taylor is grateful this Thanksgiving.

“I’m happy, I told myself that I need a reason to be thankful and they gave me a reason,” he said.

Taylor was one of nearly 500 men and women served a warm Thanksgiving meal at St. Vincent de Paul’s downtown dining room during the annual Champions for the Homeless event on Thursday.

Guests were greeted with a flower, were handed a warm meal, and offered hygiene products. They were also able to choose from a variety of clothing and shoes.

“I am happy,” said Ruben Garcia. “I didn’t realize I could be happy.”

Garcia said he’s from Tucson but has been living in Phoenix without a home for months after he became addicted to heroin.

“I’m grateful that there are places like these, that you get to eat because I spent three days out there in the elements, and it’s not for me. It’s my first time being truly homeless,” Garcia said.  

Guests were also given new sweatpants, socks, and underwear. Items Joseph Peter was thankful for.

“I didn’t have any new pants, so it’s something good to have,” Peter said. “They did a perfect job with everything, helping everybody out like this is great.”

Champions for the Homeless was founded and is organized by Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame kicker Nick Lowery for the last 16 years. Hundreds of volunteers, including celebrities like Larry Fitzgerald, took time to give back to their community.

“I get teary eye because I look at the children here, and they become addicted to the only addiction that’s healthy, which is serving and making a difference,” Lowery said.

It's an impact Taylor said he felt. The kindness of the event he said revived his hope and faith he said is one of his most prized processions.

“I’m not proud to be homeless, or in my situation, but if you are, find a way to smile and make the best of it,” Taylor said.

Inspiring Arizona

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