Restaurateur offers free meal on Thanksgiving

Lawton_Many would have gone hungry this Thanksgiving were it not for the generosity of a local business owner.  Good samara tin, Gerald Hogan, opened his Lawton restaurant to anyone who needed a warm meal today.  Santa greeted the many who lined up to grab a plate.

Many who took Hogan up on his generous offer were homeless, but there were some who were just too busy to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table.  When Fred Hampton and his brother David heard about the free meal at Gerald's Cafe they showed up to take advantage of the hearty meal offer.  They say after their mother was placed in a nursing home - the traditional holiday meal disappeared.

"You can imagine, though, when you've been going to a place for 40 years and having Thanksgiving dinner with your mom and then you don't have it anymore, it kind of hurts - right here - you know?" say the two.  They both work a lot and don't cook, so coming here - to an already prepared feast - fits right into their schedule.

Hogan moved to Lawton from Delaware and opened the restaurant two months ago.  He says he knows what it's like to hit hard times.  But, now that life is more bountiful for him - he felt it was necessary to give back.  "The old time Thanksgiving dinners for us aren't there anymore," he says.  "Because we used to gather around our grandma and grandpa, but now they're all gone.  And, now we just like to do things for others."

More than a hundred people lined up for the meal - those passing through, some falling on hard times and people like Phyllis Stevens, all there to give thanks.  "I do it by getting out and volunteering because that's what it's all about," she says.  "And, that's why I appreciate this day - and kindness for Gerald to invite me."

Hogan says feeding the hungry is something he's always wanted to do.  The meal today was paid for from his own pocket - along with some private donations.  He says he plans to do this as long as he's able.  The previous owner of Lee's Café used to provide a free Thanksgiving meal, too - a tradition that started 35 years ago