One person's idea helps hundreds in Columbia - WSMV Channel 4

One person's idea helps hundreds in Columbia

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COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) -

One person's idea has made a difference for hundreds in Columbia.

Dottie Kuzawinski and her son Mike help coordinate a free community dinner, now in its second year, at the Columbia National Guard Armory.

"I just wanted to have everybody that didn't have somebody to be with to be able to come and enjoy family time," said Kuzawinski.

"It's just nice to have some place to go on Thanksgiving," said Michael Johnston, who has family living in Iowa.

Coming from a large family, Kuzawinski wanted to give others a sense of belonging.

"There are so many people that we don't even think about, truck drivers who are on the road who are sleeping in their trucks on Thanksgiving Day," said Kuzawinski. "People who are fresh out of jail. People who don't have family who live around here.

"And it's not just about people who can't afford a meal. It's about people who need a family."

Recent cuts to the nation's food stamp program has put even more families in need. Even local food banks have been running dry.

SNAP benefit cutbacks scaled some family's budgets back nearly $100.

"What I'm going to have to do now is change what I eat and watch what I spend," said Greg Thomas. "You know I'm going to have to go to a food bank probably. I'm probably going to have a week where I can't get by. I'm probably going to have to get some canned foods, breads and rice from a food bank."

He said with no family to turn to, he is grateful for people who care.

"I'm thankful to be alive and I feel very fortunate that I can have something to eat that doesn't cost me," said Thomas.

Today it's the kind acts of just a few people that have made a difference for hundreds.

"There was always room at the table for one more," said Kuzawinski. "And there still is room at the table for one more."

Organizers of the free community Thanksgiving in Columbia said they just received a donation that will allow them to triple their outreach next year.

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