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Norfolk's Grandy Village community joins together for Thanksgiving dinner; Organizers share hope for peace

Although 300 students, parents and neighbors were enjoying some Thanksgiving favorites, it was about more than just the food.

NORFOLK, Va. — After a year of gun violence across Hampton Roads, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority wants to start the new year with love and hope.

Monday night, they fed 300 students, parents and folks from the Grandy Village neighborhood at Chesterfield Academy.

Although they were enjoying some Thanksgiving favorites, it was about more than just the food.

Organizers said they hoped opening people up to their neighbors would close the door on gun violence.

"We’re giving hope and we’re giving love and purpose, and the travesties that’s been going on in the neighborhoods, we want to bring back the hope," said NRHA Commissioner Raytron White.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, more than 100 people have been shot in Norfolk so far in 2022.

"It puts a burden on the community. It’s brought a sense of not caring," he said. 

Now, White said the city has got to kick off 2023 with hope for the future. Monday night’s community dinner was the first step.

"To know our neighbors, to know the community, to know who’s supposed to be in there and who’s not."

Sarah Porter said that’s why she enjoys this celebration every year.

"I enjoy the people and hey, since so much has been happening," she said, "This right here, I’m having a good time."

Justin Fairfax, the keynote speaker and a former lieutenant governor, said there’s so much cruelty in the world today and it’s time to change that.

"I am hopeful, even in the darkest moments, I remain inspired in part by what I see here," said Fairfax.

To Fairfax and White, it’s all about starting the new year off on the right foot, by spreading love in the community.

"We’re gonna start 2023 with the right stuff and that’s with a purpose," said White.

The hope is this time together will be a start.

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