Person: Johnny Andrews
Age: 50 something
Olympia's: Charitable celebrity
Who serves: Thanksgiving dinner
To: 400 Olympia citizens
Cooks all the food: Himself
Payed for: By himself
Even delivers: To those who don't show up for dinner
Why can't I celebrate Thanksgiving in April? People like to celebrate Christmas in July, so what's the difference?
More than celebrating the actual event itself, I'd like to focus on someone who celebrates the meaning of Thanksgiving in every aspect of life: Meet Johnny Andrews.
With a loud, southern drawl and a gently outspoken way about him, Andrews humbly admits having a heart that won't quit giving when it comes to feeding Olympia's homeless on Thanksgiving. The man isn't rich, and saves up his money throughout the year to pay for all the food.
"I spend at least three or four days cooking in my apartment," Andrews tells me as he describes what goes into preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 400 people on the streets of Olympia. "I make everything from turkeys, hams, yams, potatoes, stuffing and sometimes I even throw in my southern twist," he says as he further lists foods such as beans and rice and collard greens, making my stomach rumble at the very thought.
Wait a second, 400 people? Where on earth would you find room to feed them all?
"I've been setting up my tables and chairs on Thanksgiving Day right there in the parking lot on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Franklin," he says. I confirm with him that it's the parking lot next to King Solomon's Reef.
Andrews continues, "Sometimes I become meals on wheels. I go around to these houses where there are ten or fifteen people inside, you know, they're all on drugs and stuff. I say, ‘Hey, you want some Thanksgiving dinner?' and they say, ‘Oh yes!' so I give it to them."
I ask him if he's ever had problems with city officials, most specifically, the police. "Nah. The police came the first year and sat across the street, watching. But they told me they were just watching to make sure the drunk man at my table was doing ok," Andrews says with a smile.
Where does he find this compassion? I ask and he replies, "It all comes from God, ya dig? All my people are dead, so instead of being sad, if I have three or four hundred dollars, I'm going to find my own family to feed."