Volunteers gather at Norfolk’s O’Connor brewery to package 300-plus meals, donate clothing for those in need


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — There was a different scene than usual inside Norfolk’s O’Connor brewery on Thanksgiving.

The beer was nowhere to be found. Instead, there were stacks of clothes and prepared meals. For the second year, Giving Back in Ghent used the space to hand out the essentials on Thanksgiving.

Organizer Caswell Richardson says it all started 4 years ago in an apartment building about 3 blocks from O’Connor.

“That guy who started it moved away, and after he moved away I didn’t want it to die out,” Richardson said.

It’s now transformed into a community event where volunteers and those in need can come together.

Sondra Donaldson also helped organize the event and says volunteers packaged 300 meals and the brewery collected warm wear for a clothing drive this year.

“The amount of help people want to give is enormous,” Donaldson said.

They also incorporated handmade cards from children into the to-go meals, adding a special touch.

For someone like Joseph Jones, who’s been homeless, it’s a gift that means everything.

“When you’re away from your family and you’re sleeping outdoors and you need money to buy something to eat, you got some people who will look out for you and some people who won’t, it isn’t easy anytime, but especially during the holidays,” Jones said.

Jones says when it comes to this community, he’s constantly reminded of all the warm hearts around him.

“Over here in Norfolk I think it’s more help, a lot of people know they reach out and touch people,” Jones smiled.

Call it a pint of holiday cheer, with plenty of love to go around.

“Its great to see people volunteer, how much people want to give and it’s great to see people on the receiving,” Richardson said.

The leftover meals will be handed out in the community, and Union Mission will also take the clothes that aren’t picked up.

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