Homeless for the Holidays: Thanksgiving for Evansville’s most desperate

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Come Thursday, hundreds in Evansville won’t have turkey or dressing and no one around to give thanks. The holiday season can be a lonely one for some.

The day before, there’s a small team doing its best to change that, with a truck load of food and a mission to serve.

“By the grace of god, that could be me down there,” says David Parker.

He’s driving his well-worn Toyota pickup with the windows cracked to let in the cool November breeze. There’s a little rust around the red tailgate, but it’s not slowing his drive. White boxes are piled in the back, high enough you can’t see out the rearview mirror.

“I’ll try to help best I can to get them out of this situation,” Parker says, pausing.

There’s a line sometimes said, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” It’s one Parker knows all too well. It’s not until rock bottom did he start the climb back up.

“Thanksgiving, Christmas,” Parker says, “it’s a very tough day for people without family, so if they can have a little turkey and enjoy it, it makes them feel good and makes me feel good.”

With Aurora, Parker is bringing Thanksgiving to some of the city’s most desperate. It’s something he won’t quit doing, because he was there once.

They have about 35 boxes to deliver to Evansville’s homeless. Most of the food was collected and donated by the Jewish Temple Adath B’nai Israel.

“They go soup kitchen to soup kitchen, house to house, tent to tent, just doing the same things,” Parker says. “They don’t know how to get out of the situation.”

Years ago, it was a helping hand that pulled David out of the weeds, so now he meets them where they are. Maybe just one box, Parker thinks, will be enough to get another out of the rut.

He cuts through tall grass to see several small tents. It’s somewhere, deep in the woods and it is a home – for now. He’s visited before but hopes one day he won’t have to again.

“I kind of want to get up out of this life, you know?” says a homeless man living there, called Country.

Aurora and Parker are working closely with the people on the street and in the woods to find permanent housing. They believe addressing the basic human needs of food and shelter is the keys to turning around lives.

Parker says they’ve had success with this formula, and that keeps him going. “We work hard,” he says, looking toward the next delivery.

Until it’s gone, some may not know what they’ve got. But Parker has been there; he knows, so he gives.

It’s a treasure he’s more than willing to share.

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(This story was originally published November 22, 2017)

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