HOUSTON - On Thursday, thousands of Houstonians celebrated their Thanksgiving with one of Houston’s most recognizable Harvey heroes: Gallery Furniture owner Jim McIngvale, known across the world as ‘Mattress Mack.’
Volunteers cooked up literally more than a ton of turkey and ham each, plus all of the fixings, to feed up to 20,000 people, all with the goal of helping Houston heal from Hurricane Harvey one meal at a time.
“During the storm, the water came up to my chest, a current took me almost twice,” said Vandi Medina, who was enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with her granddaughter and cousin.
While Harvey ruined most of Medina’s possessions, it didn’t ruin this Thanksgiving tradition with her family.
“We are so grateful,” said Medina. “Anything can be replaced, but your life cannot be replaced, and that is everything.”
After sheltering Harvey victims inside his stores during the storm and flying first responders to Game 6 of the World Series, Mattress Mack welcomed anyone to his North Houston store Thursday for a Thanksgiving meal.
“These people are incredible, they’re my inspiration,” said McIngvale, of the Harvey survivors. “I think it’s important that we heal together.”
According to Gallery Furniture’s website, volunteers prepared 2,450 lbs. of turkey, 2,450 lbs. of ham, 625 lbs. of sweet potatoes, 625 lbs. of corn bread dressing, 1,200 lbs. of mashed potatoes, 477 lbs. of cranberry sauce, 900 pies, and 6,000 dinner rolls.
There were also plenty of food trucks offering other free food options, along with a free shuttle from METRO, entertainment, kids activities, and music.
Hundreds of volunteers helped put on the event, including former Houston Rockets star Robert Reid.
“I’m honored to be here…to be able to greet them, feed them,” said Reid. “It feels good to give back.”
There were also appearances by other well-known Houstonians like hip hop artist Trae Tha Truth, who’s worked alongside Mattress Mack on Harvey relief efforts.
“Anything he have, it’s only right to come support as well as he supports us,” said Trae Tha Truth. “I understand a lot of people needing, a lot of people stressing. Sometimes hope can carry people a long way, so that’s what I’m here for.”
Houstonians all working together to spread Thanksgiving joy that Harvey survivors like Medina say even one of history’s worst storms couldn’t take away.
“Harvey may have hurt us in so many ways, but he also completely brought us together.” she said.