KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City nightclub and church are joining forces to help those in need this Thanksgiving season.
The first “Show Me You Care” Thanksgiving Community Dinner by the D’Mario Gray Foundation is bringing the unlikely pair together.
“This all started from a Facebook post,” said D’Mario Gray, organizer and manager at 9ine Ultra Lounge.
Gray said a simple social media post got the wheels turning on his idea to feed the hungry this holiday season, but the passion for the idea started long ago.
“Back in the day I had ran into some trouble,” he said. “So I got a second chance at life. My goal is to give everyone I can a second chance that I can.”
On Wednesday, Smaxx, an eatery in the 18th and Vine District, is helping bring his vision to life. The location is serving as host for the free Thanksgiving community dinner where hundreds are expected to attend.
“We have turkey, dressing, macaroni, green beans and yams. We will have all of that. We will be able to serve the community and get back to doing what we love the most: feed people,” Smaxx owner Tiara Dixon said.
The goal of the dinner is to make 1,000 meals. It required teamwork. Gray said he couldn’t have done it alone, which is why he enlisted the help of 9ine Ultra Lounge owner Alphonzo Hodge and close friend and clothing line owner Charles Shirley.
“When you get the club and the church next to each other, doing something for the community, it has never been heard of,” said Timothy Hayes, pastor at 24 Hour Faith Training Center. “When people can break down the barriers and the ties holding us back as the community, this will show the world that we are a better place.”
As the cooks prepare the food, some say the meal is to show people the power of unity; others say it’s to share the gift of giving back.
Gray said it proves anyone can make a positive impact.
“I know I can’t change the world. I always like to give back,” he said. “When I do give back, it’s like the best feeling in the world.”
In addition to the meals, the group is also handing out cold weather gear, including coats, scarves and gloves, bags of food and 200 turkeys.
Gray plans to host another community dinner for Christmas.