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GIVING MORE THAN THANKS: Griffin family carries on Thanksgiving tradition

Seventeen years ago, Cornelius and Kimberly Griffin were living in New York City. He was a defensive tackle for the New York Giants and was living many young boys’ dreams of playing football on Sunday.

But on this night, Cornelius Griffin was not dreaming of crunching tackles and bold headlines, he was thinking of home, of Brundidge, Alabama, and all those who had encouraged and supported him during his growing up years.

“We were lying in bed and Cornelius said he was thinking that he wanted to do something for the people back home,” said Kimberly, his high school sweetheart at Pike County High School. “I asked him what he would like to do. He said he thought he would like to feed those that could not prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for themselves.”

Both Cornelius and Kimberly knew that neither of them would be home to gather turnips, bake turkeys and fry cornbread but they also knew there would be a village willing to help them realize a dream.

The next Thanksgiving, the Griffins provided the dollars and church and community members rolled up their sleeves and stepped into the kitchen. The Thanksgiving dinner was so greatly appreciated that Cornelius and Kimberly Griffin, their family and friends realized it would not be a one-time thing.

For the next nine years, Griffin provided the funding for a Thanksgiving meal for the elderly citizens and the sick and shut-ins on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving as his way of giving back to his community.

On those days, Griffin was usually on the practice field in New York or the Washington D.C. area. He could only image what it would be like to be a part of the preparation and delivery of the meals.

So, when he retired from professional football after the 2009 season, he looked in no direction except toward home. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2010, he was back home in Brundidge delivering turkey, dressing and all the trimmings to those who were not able to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for themselves.

On Tuesday, around 430 Thanksgiving dinners were delivered to people in and around Brundidge by members of the Brundidge Rotary Club. Another 50-plus dinners were served to the participants at the Brundidge Nutrition Center.

Cornelius and Kimberly Griffin expressed appreciation to his mom, Martha Griffin who organizes the dinner from start to finish, the ladies of Lily White Holiness Church, who are the cooks and bottle washers, Robert Boyd who furnishes the greensand  the Brundidge Rotary Club for delivering the meals, the City of Brundidge for the use of the facility and all who contributed in various other ways. Special thanks were given for a loving and caring community and the blessings for yet another Thanksgiving Day.