Hyde Park woman self-funds Thanksgiving giveaway, serves 160

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The holiday season is expected to bring out the spirit of charity in many across the community.

This includes one Memphis woman who donated from her own pocket to make sure those who were less fortunate were fed this Thanksgiving.

“I’m grateful for giving back to what I did today and I’m so happy about it,” said Debra Whitmore of Hyde Park. “I didn’t turn no one down because I didn’t know what nobody’s situation was.”

Whitmore, who’s lived in the Hyde Park community for 58 years, said she had a vision back in October to give freely to neighbors who couldn’t give to themselves. “Some of these people don’t have no appliances. Some of them are in rooming houses, some of them on drugs. They not getting no meal.”

Whitmore said she’s aware of the struggles encountered by her community. The hardships are the reason she chose to lend a helping hand on Thanksgiving Eve. “I was surprised when the man said he hadn’t had a meal in two years. That kind of made me emotional.”

In a conversation with FOX13, Julian Cogbill of Hyde Park said because he’s gone so long without the fulfillment of a holiday dinner, he’s thankful for Whitmore’s generous effort. “I’m speaking from my heart. I haven’t had a thanksgiving dinner like in 2 years. COVID came and took my daddy and my mother this spring. This is a blessing right here,” said Cogbill.

Whitmore said she spent almost $200 on food alone and sacrificed 14 hours to cook and prep meals the night before. 160 plates were handed out. “She got a good heart,” said Carl Kaufmann also of Hyde Park. “For as long as I’ve been in the neighborhood, she’s been good to everybody.”

Whitmore said she plans to make the effort an annual event with hopes of a larger growth and more plates to serve in the future.

“I didn’t know it was going to turn out like it turned out, but I’m grateful very grateful,” said Whitmore. “This is my community and I want to give back to my community where I was born and raised.”