Franklin man, 22, to serve free Thanksgiving dinner

Published 11:33 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

FRANKLIN—Through his job with a non-profit agency, Franklin’s Darnell Lee Jr. feeds 4,000 kids daily from Emporia to Portsmouth.

On Thanksgiving, the 22-year-old plans to serve a free turkey dinner to anyone who wants to share the day together. He’s planning for 250.

“This doesn’t have to be for the needy; it can be for anyone,” said Lee, who will pay for the dinner from noon to 2 p.m. at the Armory in Franklin with his money and donations.

This isn’t Lee’s first gesture of kindness. During his junior and senior years at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., he and his family gave away 86 and 135 turkeys, respectively.

“Me and my dad were talking about how blessed I was and I wanted to give back,” said Lee, who earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation

He is taking it one step further this year by serving the entire meal.

Lee and his mother, Kim Walker-Lee, on Friday traveled to Norfolk to buy 10 to 12 turkeys, instant mashed potatoes and stuffing. Lee’s counting on donations of food and money from friends, family and colleagues to supplement the meal.

“I think a lot of people who know me will make cakes and pies,” said the 2007 Southampton High School graduate.

His mother couldn’t be prouder.

“At first, I said ‘are you sure,’ because I knew he didn’t want me to cook,” Walker-Lee said. “In years past, he’s given away turkeys, but he doesn’t want people to eat by themselves. He’s the youngest of 21 grandchildren. We have a big family that gets together every Sunday. He loves family, togetherness and giving back.”

On Thanksgiving, while family friend and Southampton County Public Schools teacher Angie Vick cooks the meal, Lee plans to go around town to let people know about the dinner and help where needed.

If interested in donating a dish, drop it off at the Armory during the dinner.