Oklahoma’s giving spirit is alive and well all across the country and shining bright especially during the holidays.
Growing up, Ransom Miller was exposed early to the need of giving back from his father and his church.
“I got a chance to see how important it was, in that case the church, to support those that found themselves in tough situations,” said Miller.
After graduating high school, Miller moved to Washington D.C. on a football scholarship to Howard University.
He recalled a conversation with work colleagues about how blessed they are to have food and the necessities to survive.
He began asking friends and businesses to donate money to help those less fortunate.
“Basically, I gathered up all of my friends and said, 'Hey, can we get together to go shopping?' And we did that. Then it was a wonderful feeling to help those families, it was six families that year,” said Miller.
He would eventually give the effort the name Project Give Back.
“Now just this weekend, this is our 27th annual Thanksgiving food distribution. We went from six families to what we did this weekend. Over 4,100 families were fed because of the work we did this year,” said Miller.
More than 4,000 families will now have Thanksgiving dinner, and this is far more than a turkey giveaway. They also buy different meat items, vegetables, produce, macaroni and other sides.
“I will never forget giving to one particular family that had at least four kids, and they were waiting on us when we pulled up. They came outside, and they saw all the food and they were so happy,” said Miller. “The parents were happy, and the one little girl grabbed my leg and said, 'thank you, thank you thank you,' and I was like, 'man, there’s some onions around here.'"
Those moments happen often and bring him to tears.
This year, they expanded the program to parts of Virginia with plans to reach other communities in the future including Oklahoma City.
Another addition to the program happened about 15 years ago when a vendor offered to supply Christmas trees.
“So, I was like great! And the kids went crazy. We had the food, but they were not as excited about the food because they had not had a tree," he said.
Miller noticed the mother became sad.
While she was appreciative for the tree, there was no money to purchase gifts to put under the tree.
“And that was the birth of the Christmas toy and book drive. 'Cause I can’t allow the mother to have the burden to put something under the tree, when I bought the tree,” Miller said.
Surprisingly to Miller, the kids are just as excited to receive books as well as toys.
Support for Project Give Back is nationwide with many donors from Oklahoma.
If you’d like to support this fundraiser, visit www.projectgiveback.org.