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Gilmore-Harris family honors patriarch’s legacy by serving Thanksgiving dinner at Opportunity House

When Danny Gilmore passed away in January at age 73, he left a tradition of service to his community, having mentored multiple generations of Reading youth, especially through coaching sports.

Most importantly, according to a line in his obituary, he loved to be with his family, especially around the holidays.

On Thursday, his extended family honored his legacy by serving those less fortunate a Thanksgiving dinner, including all of the fixings the family enjoys when they gather for the holiday.

Ten members of the Gilmore-Harris clan crammed into the hot kitchen of Opportunity House, a multi-service organization in northwest Reading that helps individuals and families facing obstacles, including homelessness.

The meal was served about 2:30 p.m. to roughly 60 adults and 10 children in the dining hall adjacent to the nonprofit’s emergency shelter at 430 N. Second St.

Chris Harris loads homemade cranberry sauce onto a tray held by Crystal Gilmore-Harris on the serving line Thursday of Opportunity House in Reading. Members of the extended family of the late Danny Gilmore served Thanksgiving meals to 60 adults and 10 children in need as as part of an initiative of the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation. (STEVEN HENSHAW — READING EAGLE)

The family wore black T-shirts with the red letters LW printed on the front along with smaller letters spelling out the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation, which paid for the food. Those are the colors of the Reading High Red Knights. Walker wore those colors when he starred on the boys basketball team that brought home the school’s first state championship.

Now an NBA player with the San Antonio Spurs, Walker was unable to be in Reading for the event.

“We tried to get as many things that we knew we would want to share with them,” said Crystal Gilmore-Harris, one of Danny’s daughters, who serves as program director for the foundation.

That meant plates were filled in assembly-line fashion with not only turkey and cranberry sauce but with family Thanksgiving staples: potato stuffing, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese and Spanish rice with beans, and string beans. The food was prepared in the kitchens of Grill then Chill Lounge and Mi Casa Su Casa.

LWIV Foundation was founded in 2019 and strives to positively impact individuals and families through education, sports and charitable activities. It provides free annual basketball camps and the LWIV Scholarship Fund.

For the past few years, the foundation teamed with Tim Profit, general manager of Savage 61 Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram to hand out  free turkeys with boxes of fixings to those in need in the community.

But this year, they got word that turkeys were in short supply.

“So we decided that we would just back off and not play a part in making the shortage even shorter, so to speak, and try to do something with a more personal touch,” Gilmore-Harris said.

Handing a tray loaded with hot food and saying “Happy Thanksgiving” feels more meaningful than handing a bag containing a frozen turkey, she said.

“We can show them we’re not just somebody who’s going to hand you a bag and walk away,” Gilmore-Harris said. “We’re an organization that’s in the community. If you need us, we’re here for you.”

As others have discovered when they help out to provide meals to those who would otherwise not not be able to enjoy a hot meal on Thanksgiving, the family received by sharing.

Isaiah Gilmore, 20,
a student at Shippensburg University, carries a tray of desserts at Opportunity House in Reading. Members of the extended family of the late Danny Gilmore’s family served Thanksgiving meals to 60 adults and 10 children in need as as part of an initiative of the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation.(STEVEN HENSHAW — READING EAGLE)“We  took time out here before serving our own meals (at home), which makes it a little more personal,” Gilmore-Harris said. “And I think something is very important about Thanksgiving. It’s about family. It’s about sharing. It’s about being grateful. So we’re grateful that we were able to take time to be here today to share with someone who is less fortunate than we are.”

Some of the youngest members of the family were indoctrinated in the importance of sharing. 

Gilmore-Harris’ 9-year-old granddaughter, Nyla Harris, was on the assembly line next to her big cousin, Amari Gilmore, placing a dinner roll on each tray.

“The nice thing today is we also have some of the younger generation here,” Gilmore-Harris said. “We believe that you have to show kids in order to get them to understand the importance of giving back.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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