Lindsey Armstrong - The Spirit of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a time of year that brings us closer to the ones we love and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives.
As we gather around our tables this holiday to give thanks we must also remember those who are in need of a helping hand.
This week's 'Pay it Forward' celebrates the spirit of Thanksgiving that's taken flight, seemingly by chance, at the Summit Apartments in downtown Cleveland.
That's where we meet Emily Cloud-Ridge. Emily is excited to recognize a young woman for her incredible acts of kindness.
Emily says, "I nominated Lindsey Armstrong who is the founder of the organization, The Family Kitchen."
Emily is a service coordinator for residents of the Summit, which provides low-income housing to people with disabilities, many of whom are facing homelessness.
On the weekends Lindsey wakes up early to prepare and serve hot, homemade meals to the residents.
"We have many organizations helping us but this one has just brought up so much morale because it is a high school student. She just wants to, legit, give back to the community," Emily says.
Emily tells me in her office, "Sometimes she even brings dinner on Saturday nights and Sunday nights, so, it helps my residents who haven't eaten on the weekends because most of the Salvation Army, the food kitchens, they are closed on the weekends."
The Bradley Central High School senior is visiting with some residents across the street at Johnston Park as we count out our 'Pay it Forward' cash.
Emily smiles and looks at the time on her phone. "She'll be really excited. She knows nothing, so it's a complete surprise!"
We walk out of the apartment building and cross the street into the edge of the park.
Emily beams as she approaches Lindsey. "On behalf of the McMahan Law Firm and NewsChannel 9 I want to 'Pay it Forward' with $100, $200, $300, $400, $500. "
Lindsey is stunned. "Thank you guys! Wow!"
A crowd of Summit residents and members of the homeless community gather around us, anxious to be a part of the excitement.
They ALL know and love Lindsey. When she introduces me to each and every person I realize the depth of her devotion to help end hunger in her community.
A fire truck roars past as Lindsey tells me how her school's cross-country team led her to forming an organization to help so many people in need.
Lindsey speaks softly as she recalls just how The Family Kitchen began. "We ran past the same woman on a bench every morning and it was about 6 in the morning, so, I got to know her and just learned things about her."
She also discovered there were dozens of other nearby neighbors who are making do with so little.
Lindsey goes on to say, "I just learned that the soup kitchen was serving Monday through Friday, one meal a day. So, I went home and I said, 'Hey mom, let's bring breakfast.'"
That single act of kindness has sparked the true spirit of Thanksgiving across the seasons for the folks who call the Cleveland Summit Apartments home.
In the crowd of friends and family huddled together in the cold a woman shouts, "She's (Lindsey) awesome and we thank her!" And, above all the booming sounds of the city erupts a long and loud wave of gracious applause.
Lindsey Armstrong plans to attend Belmont University next Fall. Until then she will continue her volunteer work each weekend with the organization she founded, The Family Kitchen.
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