Lufkin family thankful for community support, after losing everything in fire

Llewelyn White
Llewelyn White
Reverend Bettie Kennedy
Reverend Bettie Kennedy

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – What began with two boxes of food has turned into roughly 1600 boxes, feeding that many families across East Texas.

Starting in 1982, Reverend Bettie Kennedy began what would become a community wide food drive the week before thanksgiving.

Saturday, hundreds showed up at old whites warehouse in Lufkin, to package and deliver food boxes.

For people like Llewelyn White, the delivery couldn't come at a better time.

On October 5th, Llewelyn and six family members were fast asleep, when their smoke alarm went off. Flames threatened their home and their lives.

"By the time we got everyone out of the house the blaze just boomed. It went sky high," she said.

They lost everything.

"We have God and we made it out. That's the main thing."

Almost one month later, they are forced to start over. It's a daunting task with three-year old twins and a niece and nephew to take care of. Llewelyn says her community immediately stepped in to help.

"People everywhere have been donating. They haven't stopped."

Saturday, Reverend Kennedy and volunteers showed up at Llewelyn's front door with a box full of food.

Inside, there is enough for a thanksgiving meal and food that will last for weeks.

"There's chicken and dressing, collard greens that's been donated and ham and turkey," said Llewelyn.

Pastor M.E. Lyons shares a similar story to Llewelyn's. As a young boy, he lost his home in a fire around Christmas.

"The community and our church and other people showed up even that day and brought all kinds of things. We lost everything in the fire but gained more by the community showing up and bringing us gifts," said Lyons.

The annual food drive is becoming tradition for Lyons and his daughter, as they give back to their community.

"I do a lot of stuff with my dad so this is really special," said Deja Lyons, 11.

It's a chance to think about all they are thankful for, meeting people like Llewelyn who have their lives to celebrate, and now a thanksgiving feast.

"Thanks to the good Lord, every body's came through so we can have food now," said Llewelyn.

Reverend Kennedy says churches across Lufkin got involved in Saturday's food drive.

Hundreds of volunteers, including several families also participated.

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