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Kingston police help give holiday dinner to others

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By Damon Lawrence

Christmas is still weeks away, but the spirit of giving is already alive and well in Roane County.

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Hundreds of local families got the chance to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner thanks to that spirit, which was on display Tuesday at Kingston City Park.

The Kingston Police Department teamed up with Hands of Mercy to hand out boxes of food to those in need.

Police Chief Jim Washam said the recipients were able to choose either a ham or turkey and got all the fixings to feed a family of six to eight.

“We’ve got stuffing, vegetables, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce,” Hands of Mercy Executive Director Sharon Pinner said.

Pinner said the generosity of the community made the act of kindness possible.

“The community support has been wonderful,” she said. “In a time when people are really struggling, they’ve been very good about giving. They really have gone above and beyond.”

Pinner said the recipients were Hands of Mercy clients. Some were also Salvation Army referrals, she said.

“They sent them on to us,” she said. “Because we had so much, we said we will share.”

Pinner and Washam said people didn’t have to live in Kingston to receive the food.

“This is for the entire county because I serve the entire county,” Pinner said.

“That’s what we want,” Washam added. “We want people in Roane County to be helped.”

Washam said this was the second year his department assisted the Hands of Mercy.

“We wound up feeding 127 families last year,” he said. “I told Sharon Pinner that we wanted to double that this year. Well, we more than met that double. We’re actually going to feed 400 families.”

Washam said the idea to help the Hands of Mercy came from one of his officers.

“It just tickles us to death to know that somebody is going to have something this Thanksgiving that they might not have had,” Washam said.

“Next year we’re going to feed more.”

Pinner said she believes Roane Countians will continue to show the spirit of giving through the rest of the holidays.

“I don’t really see that stopping,” she said. “I think Roane County can handle whatever comes its way.”