Hundreds fed at first "CovesGiving" in Copperas Cove
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Hundreds of people enjoyed a free Thanksgiving meal Saturday afternoon at the CovesGiving event held at the Mickey’s Convenience Store located at the corner of Sunset Lane and Georgetown Road.
The event was the brainchild of Gerald Lee, who grew up in Copperas Cove and wanted to give back to his community.
Lee spent 16 years in prison for his connection to a 2003 convenience store armed robbery in Lampasas until he was released nearly three years ago.
He said the idea for CovesGiving started while he was serving his time in prison.
“It started with an idea to give back to the community that I once ran the streets as a young youth, and just a way to give back to the community,” Lee said.
The line of people waiting for a hot meal wrapped down the side of the convenience store at times. People were let into the store in groups of five to grab their Thanksgiving meal.
“It means everything to me because the same notoriety that you can get with negativity is kind of varied in feeling getting it from doing the right thing,” Lee said. “These are the same people that were on the block when I was when I was younger, so it means everything to me. You know, we’re also helping people during these Thanksgiving times, and people who don’t have the support, we’re just showing up.”
Lee said they were prepared to serve around 300 people.
The free meals included turkey and/or ham, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, yams, dinner rolls and either a slice of cake or sweet potato pie, plus an apple or orange.
The food was cooked by Jolly’s Restaurant, located in Killeen at 874 S. Ft. Hood St.
Owners Antonio Jolly and his wife, Tanya, joined other friends and family members of Lee’s in the back room at Mickey’s, serving guest after guest. Antonio and Lee have been friends since high school.
Tanya said that owning and operating a restaurant is something they’ve always wanted to do.
The couple worked overseas as contractors and decided to open their restaurant over a year ago.
When Lee told them about his idea, they were all in, Tanya said.
“It’s fulfilling because it’s something that we do to give back to our community,” Tanya said. “You know, it’s always nice to do something for the people that we live around. It’s just one of those things that makes you feel good doing something for other people, especially with COVID. Money’s tight with everyone, so everybody could use a helping hand right now.”
Lee said he was glad to be serving people in an area that gets a bad reputation in town, near Sunset Lane.
“It means everything because I’m helping out people who are in need,” Lee said. “Everybody knows this is economically one of the lowest housing areas, so it means everything to give back back because you never know what people are going through during the holidays, just needing extra love, so that’s what I’m here for.”
Dana Adams was picking up a plate for herself and her neighbor. She found out about CovesGiving through word of mouth, she said.
“People taking care of people, and you know, that’s what it’s all about,” Adams said. “That’s what this country needs more of. That’s how it used to be back in the day. Now it’s more of ‘What can you do for me?’ instead of ‘What can you do for each other?’ The pandemic did a lot. We’re still not over it yet, so any little bit helps.”
Lee said he plans to continue holding CovesGiving every year moving forward.