Many families woke up Thanksgiving morning just like they had for every Thanksgiving in their past. But this year was nothing like it had been before. This year many families woke up in hotel rooms with small microwaves and no place to cook a turkey or a green bean casserole or to bake a pumpkin pie.

The Lighthouse Charity Team, who fed more than 15,000 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, wanted to feed these people and add a little comfort to their lives. Sometimes people don’t realize how much a hot meal and some camaraderie can bring great comfort to someone who is hurting. “You may never see a person again, but it kind of gives you a chance to take a break and realize you are in the same battle as they are,” said Scott Gordon president of the Lighthouse Charity Team. “And food not only nourishes your body, but it gives you time to sit down with your neighbors.”

In 1984 the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon asked if they could use the lighthouse building in Friendswood where Dick Daugird housed his State Farm insurance company, as a pledge center. Along with his wife Horacene and a slew of volunteers they set up a food service station to serve up some Texas barbecue to the people that the telethon would bring in. And for the next eight years they continued their yearly relationship with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and along with the Daugirds those volunteers became the original Lighthouse Cooking Team. The Daugirds set up a shop on their land in Friendswood and began building custom cooking trailers and giving back to the community. According to his book “Cooking for a Cause,” Dick Daugird said, “To date, our organization has raised over $20 million for other nonprofits and has served over 1 million meals. The Lighthouse Cooking Team helps raise money for all types of charities including schools, churches, scout troops, Little League teams, emergency responders, military servicemen, veterans, Blue Santa Toys for Kids, service organizations, fundraisers for children and adults battling terminal illnesses, victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires, and aids in searches for missing persons.” Once their business got cooking they really got cooking.

As operations grew, the Daugirds began using their vacation home in Galveston as a second location. In 2011 in an amazing gesture Larry Del Papa, owner of Anheuser-Busch’s Galveston distributorship donated the use of the buildings they were vacating for their new state of the art location in Texas City, to LCT.

The mayor of La Marque, Bobby Hocking, decided to give the proceeds of the popular Bayou Fest to the Lighthouse Charity Team and while he was on stage announcing the almost $62,000 donation, Scott Gordon came onstage with him and asked if he could make an announcement. He proceeded to tell the crowd of his phone call with the Glenn Beck charitable organization Mercury One where they generously said they would match whatever amount the Bayou Fest raised. So as they stood there on that stage the donation doubled to about $124,000. The Lighthouse Charity Team used the donation to provide Thanksgiving lunches. “We fed close to 6,000 people at several churches around town to people who suffered damage from Hurricane Harvey or just needed the meal. Close to 1,800 people were served at Hope Lutheran Church in Friendswood which served as a central location for all of the Friendswood churches to come together and feed families. Across town at the Greater Barbour’s Chapel Baptist Church in Texas City another group of grateful families sat down to a warm meal and some camaraderie with other people who suffered the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. While our cities are recovering from the storm, the citizens are waking up to new resolve, to a feeling of awe for the way people are helping people and new hope for the future.

The Thanksgiving lunch in Friendswood kicked off the new holiday season with a toy drive for the Blue Santa organization. People who were not affected by the flood were asked to bring a new unwrapped toy to the lunch to donate to Blue Santa, which is the policeman’s organization that delivers toys to families in need at Christmastime.

The 20th annual Holiday in the Park will take place in League City at the beautiful historic League Park on Main Street from Dec. 1-3. The event will begin with a holiday movie in the park at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1, bring a lawn chair and enjoy hot chocolate and popcorn. There will be vendors galore so enjoy some shopping. At 10 a.m. Dec. 2, there is a children’s parade, entrants need to arrive by 9:30 a.m. and all children can take part dressed in their holiday best or in Christmas themed costumes. At the end of the parade the children get to visit with Santa. The evening of Dec. 2 brings the 20th Anniversary Grand Night Parade at 6 p.m., and League City Mayor Pat Hallisey will be The Grand Marshal. The mayor has been recovering from a heart attack so the city will be very happy to see him! Come to the judges’ area near Park and Main to see all of the performances from the local high school bands, drill teams and cheerleaders as well as numerous dance teams, dancing horses and other organizations in beautiful floats. Plus you can come by and say hi to me and Channel 11 KHOU-TV’s Darby Douglas as we emcee the parade. The theme of the parade will be Your Favorite Holiday Movie! On Dec. 3 there will be a Pet Parade at 1 p.m. and there will be snow in the park for the kids to enjoy. This is a wonderful event to get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Ange Mertens’ column, The A List, covers society and charity events in North Galveston County.

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