The Opportunity House served warm meals to people who are homeless on Thursday, Thanksgiving.

CONCORD – About 37 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, according to statistics compiled by Feeding America.

They don’t know where their next warm meal will come from.

Homelessness and hunger in America, especially in relation to children, is an important topic to me.

A loss of job, eviction, mental health or family dysfunction are just a few simple ways a family can be sleeping on the streets.

It’s a travesty. More must be done, which is why I am thankful leaders in Cabarrus County have put the issue in the forefront.

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Shelters like the Opportunity House and the Salvation Army are vital to the community, which is why, if possible, for people who can to provide donations to those organizations. Organizations like Cooperative Christian Ministry provide navigation, resources and opportunities for people in desperate need.

However, it's still not enough.

Homelessness is an issue for everyone in the community and an issue we shouldn’t ignore.

I want to make this a better community for all, and I know that officials with Cabarrus County, City of Concord, City of Kannapolis and other municipalities do as well.

On Thanksgiving morning, I took my wife and 21-month-old daughter to the Opportunity House, a daytime shelter on Corbin Street in Concord that serves the homeless community.

We assisted Pastor Jim Hood and his wife in serving meals to about 30 individuals in need. They were living in poverty.

It was a humbling experience, but I wanted to teach my daughter about compassion, something we all need, at a young age.

She may not understand yet, but she will.

Those who were served at the Opportunity House received a warm meal, turkey tetrazzini, green beans, garlic bread, cupcakes and pastries.

The pastries were donated by Panera Bread and other food was donated by Food Lion.

The guests were gracious. They were friendly, not bad folks, just a little down on their luck.

Opportunity House had a limited day on Thanksgiving, meaning for that one day, it served as a place for the homeless to get warm, rest and have a meal.

On any other weekday, the Opportunity House, hosted by director Thad Brown and Pastor Jim Hood, provides meals, clothing, restrooms, washing machines and dryers, access to a nurse, computers for job searching, church and Bible study, among other services.

Opportunity House wasn’t the only place serving meals for the needy on Thanksgiving Day.

I’m thankful for those in the community wanting to make a difference.

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