The Man Behind Thanksgiving in the Park

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Fall is approaching and with it one of our favorite holidays here at Texas Forest Country Living.

Thanksgiving is usually a time for family, food, and football, especially here in deep East Texas. But for one man, it’s a great time to give back.

Greg Sims has been operating Thanksgiving in the Park for almost five years now. As he shares a story of two men and a woman who came to the event with TFCL, it’s evident he holds this project close to his heart.

The story goes that as the three were leaving, Sims told them to have a nice holiday. The woman turned and said that she’d had a nice holiday because of them.

“It was so touching and so heart felt, the way she said it and you knew you made an impact on somebody’s life; their holiday,” he said. “It was just one of those moments where it’s like ‘this is why I do this.'”

Thanksgiving in the Park started out as a simple conversation with a friend. This friend made a lot of food for his family on Thanksgiving, but often had quite a bit left over. Sims’ friend made a comment on how he wanted to give the food out to the homeless who roamed around the park and that’s when Sims knew he could help, having the resources and connections. 

Sims has worked eight years as a social worker and enjoys the opportunity to help those in his community.

“Just to be able to affect some sort of change in [people], positive change, it goes above and beyond what a job provides for most. It’s just seeing that difference when they come in and when they leave. It’s worth more than any paycheck.”

Now going into their sixth Thanksgiving, Sims is very appreciative for the people who volunteer.

“Without them, it would be me and a tub of green beans out there trying to feed people and that would never work,” he said. “I value all of them greatly and could not do any of these plans without them.”

Rachel Lauren and Bee Martinez interview Greg Sims about his career and the origins of Thanksgiving in the Park.

However, social work wasn’t Sims’ first choice.

“I changed my major like a million times,” he said. He tried out different options but none of them felt right to him.

Then, December 21, 2009, Sims got hit by a drunk driver. During his healing process, he talked to a social worker. Their conversation sparked something for Sims. He felt that is what he wanted to be. 

“You see people at their worst possible in their life, and of course that’s draining on anybody,” Sims said. “You just have to focus on helping them find resources. When you see the end result, it makes it all worth it.”

Like hearing someone’s holiday has become a good one because of a man’s desire to give back to the community.

Thanksgiving in the park is always on Thanksgiving day, located at Kiwanis Park in Lufkin, Texas from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. New volunteers are always welcomed and are greatly appreciated.

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