VanVleet Foundation feeds Rockford residents for the holidays

Published: Nov. 20, 2022 at 11:00 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Thanksgiving is right around the corner and one local family foundation has prepared thousands of free holiday dinners for Rockford residents.

The VanVleet Family Foundation was started by NBA and world-champion basketball player Fred VanVleet. The goal is to help people in any way possible, and with the holiday season in full swing, the family is determined to make sure everyone gets to spend the day with a full belly.

“With everything going around in this world it’s a blessing for everybody,” said Susan Richardson, one of the many appreciative stateliners who received two bags of Thanksgiving goodies.

Richardson says selfless acts like these help save her time and money at the store. Each family or person in need gets two bags that contain a frozen turkey, boxed stuffing, canned vegetables that range from corn to green beans and a boxed dessert.

“This is a blessing for a lot of folks, it really is. And it helps them put a turkey on the table. Feed their kids, grandkids. Whoever come by,” said Richardson.

Richardson lists her kids, grandchildren and other relatives who she now can feed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. She wishes more organizations would help out the same way.

“Thank y’all. God bless you. You know bless this whole world, I wish (VanVleet Family Foundation) was able to reach out to everybody that’s in need,” said Richardson.

“We started it as a way to give back to people around the holidays and just to give back to the community,” said Danforth.

Susan Danforth, mother of Fred VanVleet and the CEO of the foundation, says the non-profit started its holiday dinner drive in 2017. They were able to pass out food to 200 people in that first event. Now they are serving more than 1,000 people and hope to keep expanding the reach each year.

The purpose was to give back and lessen the stress for other community members. This year Hard Rock Casino lends a helping hand to fund some of the dinners given out.

“It’s emotional, I’ll tell you that. To see some of the joy on some of these people’s faces. I almost cried a couple times my own self, so I love being able to give back to these people,” said Tasha, the IT admin at Hard Rock Casino.

“Smiles on people’s faces. Seeing that they have a meal being brought to them for Thanksgiving,” said Gia Price, the human resources administrator at Hard Rock Casino.