VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Every Thanksgiving season comes with an influx of food drives and giveaways.
But one Virginia Beach couple has found that it only takes one person to make a difference all the same.
“We don’t always take time to give back, I don’t want to take anything for granted. We’ve been really lucky and blessed to stay busy through the pandemic," Mark Wilson told 13News Now.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have only made Mark and his fiancé Mallory feel more grateful and thankful this holiday season.
“I know a lot of people and friends that were out of work for months. That could have happened to me," Wilson said.
All traditions start from somewhere, and Wilson's started just by saving up his spare change over the course of a year.
“Would take my spare change, because I had a big coin container. I would get a head start on a couple hundred bucks to jump-start it. Now we kind of plan throughout the year," Wilson said.
This year, Wilson purchased 40 turkeys at the Centerville Turnpike Food Lion in Virginia Beach, continuing his annual tradition of 'Paying it Forward' for families that may have trouble putting together a Thanksgiving meal.
Wilson spreads the message through social media, hoping families in need see the post and utilize one of the pre-paid turkeys.
“There may be someone from Virginia Beach or another city that doesn’t know me or what we do, but somebody shares it and they find it and they’re able to have a Thanksgiving meal they might not have been able to have," Wilson said.
According to Wilson, he's gotten hundreds of messages from the community about the availability of these turkeys. He recounted one woman, in particular, using one turkey and using it to make and distribute multiple meals for other people.
The bill normally rings up to hundreds of dollars worth of thanksgiving turkeys out of their own pocket. This year, Mark and Mallory's oldest son Liam has shown an interest in saving up money in his own piggy bank to go in on the turkeys, too.
“Hopefully 10-12 years from now, one of them will help take over and start doing it," Wilson said.
Mark is the first to admit, he's not the wealthiest of fathers. But when it comes to the things that matter most, he feels like a rich man. For those that may have trouble finding thanks to give this holiday season, Mark and his fiancé Mallory have enough to go around.
“You don’t have to be a huge organization or have hundreds of thousands of dollars. Anything you do is going to help someone."