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By: Nakia Cooper/ KHOU.com

HOUSTON—The Professional Athletes, Celebrities and Entertainers Mother’s Organization and the Santana Dotson Foundation partnered with the Houston Police Department South Patrol Command Thursday, November 21 to provide “The Gratitude of Giving” Thanksgiving Feast for underprivileged families in Houston.

Hundreds of attendees were treated to a banquet-style set up at the Power Center, which included all of the trimmings and fixings of a traditional southern holiday meal. Each foundation chose five families to attend and the remaining families were selected with the help of 97.9 the Box and Majic 102.1 FM. radio stations. Contacts from local schools also referred families.

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Often times, unfortunate families are unable to provide meals during the holidays. To make sure that didn’t happen this year, families in need were given complete uncooked “meals to go” to cook their own feasts at home.

Keynote Speaker- Retired General Brigadier Joe Ramirez, currently in charge of the R.O.T.C. program at Texas A&M, received a standing ovation after he spoke about the selfless men and women who serve this country; sharing their stories of “giving,” which sadly includes sometimes giving their lives for freedom. The general spoke of how that kind of sacrifice extends to those right in our own backyard.

“In everything you do, you must always make sure that you live up to the highest personal and professional standards of duty, service and honor…the values of the best traditions of our country,” General Ramirez said, quoting Theodore Roosevelt.

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Following in that tradition, organizers wanted to make sure they helped families in the community. They were excited with the turnout for the evening.

“I thought it was a great event that we put on in conjunction with the Houston Police Department and P.A.C.E. Moms. It was our first Thanksgiving Event, which will now be an annual event,” said Bruce Allen, executive director of the Santana Dotson Foundation. “And just the blessing of knowing that needy families got a chance to get a meal and hear a great speech with Brigadier General Ramirez in regard to families and seeing the smiles on the families’ faces was enough. That is what our foundation is about; it is about servicing the community.”

Santana Dotson, former Green Bay Packers player and Super Bowl champion, said the event was also great way to step into the holiday season.

“The holiday season in particular is a great time to celebrate friends and family because there are so many people in need that often feel isolated and lonely at this time of year,” Dotson said. “It is important that foundations like ours reach out to families in need to let them know that just because their family member may be in a different part of the country or has passed on, they are still part of a bigger family.”

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For entertainment, attendees enjoyed the Codwell Elementary Violinist Ensemble, Military Colors by U.S. Army Southern Division 75th Training Command, Recording Artists Greg Watson & Ellen Jones and Recording Artist / Entertainment Personality / Executive Producer & Co-Star of Reality Cooking Series “Comida Caliente,” Stefani Vara.

Councilman Larry Green and 97.9 the Box radio personality “The Madd Hatta”  were among the attendees that evening.

P.A.C.E. Moms was founded by Karen Johnson, mother of four-time pro bowler and Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.

Santana Dotson (L) and Karen Johnson (M) at Gratitude of Giving Feast

Santana Dotson (L) and Karen Johnson (M) at Gratitude of Giving Feast