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Nashville man who overcame homelessness, gives back every holiday season

Feeding the homeless
Posted at 5:21 PM, Dec 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-18 23:22:46-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Many of you may be spending your weekend, preparing for a big holiday meal. But one man is using his own life experience to give back to those who really need it.

Parris McKinney Jr. and his team spent all Saturday morning seasoning, slicing and frying a feast, most of us would pay top dollar for. "We got turkey, macaroni and cheese. We got green beans," said McKinney. "Then we have apples, tangerines and each one will get a pair of socks."

But they won't be accepting a cent. "I promised I would always give back and to help individuals that don’t have that opportunity," he said.

Instead, they packed up 230 meals to give out to those down on their luck. These Secret Santas used a sleigh you might not expect — a party bus from Extreme Experience, that McKinney owns and operates. "There you go man, and here’s some socks for you too," said McKinney — as he passes out a meal to a man standing on the side of Lebanon Pike.

Parris has been delivering meals for the last seventeen years. He gives, because he knows what it's like to receive. "I know the struggle, I know how they feel," he said.

Long before he started this high frying tradition, Parris found himself living out of a car in Nashville. Then a knock on the door, changed his life. "He said, you want a meal? I said yea. He gave me a meal and just talked to me. He said, why are you in this situation? I just said, I just lost everything, not due to drugs or alcohol, I just hit rock bottom. I’m just trying to get back. He said -- if I open a door for you, would you take it? I said, yessir I will," said McKinney.

That stranger opened up a door and a job opportunity for Parris. Now, he's trying to give the same gift to others. "I’ve been blessed and I want to pass it on to whoever else," he said.

Because inside every to-go box is a hearty meal, served with a side of hope. "If you can give a person hope, then you can change they life and then they can change other people’s lives. That’s what I believe in. Just give a person hope," said McKinney.

Several dozen meals were also donated to students at a local MNPS school.