CLEVELAND — For many, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what you’re grateful for, surrounded by family and food.

But that isn’t an option for all because poverty persists during the holidays.

What You Need To Know

One Cleveland nonprofit works to make sure no one is forgotten.

Every day, A.J. McRainey is doing what he can to help feed his community.

“I’m making a very small dent, but it’s better than doing nothing," he said.

McRainey is the Distribution Manager at Trials For Hope, a local food pantry that was founded in 2010.

“It doesn’t ever feel like I’m working," said McRainey. "I’m just providing a basic necessity to people. Adding a little dignity to their lives.”

The nonprofit is currently housed at the Harbor and Bridge Community Center in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.


“I’ve learned this slowly too, it’s not just what you give — it’s how you give, too," said McRainey.

Every week the Greater Cleveland Food Bank donates thousands of pounds of food and other goods to the organization, which the Trials For Hope team then distributes to thousands of people in need.

“We’ve got it down to a science," said McRainey.

After packing up dozens of bags of meat, canned goods and other household items, McRainey heads off to deliver the food to residents living in subsidized housing.

“We keep growing, but the van stays the same size," he said.

Meanwhile, volunteers gave out hundreds of turkey sandwiches at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Lakeview Terrace Community Center the day before Thanksgiving.

Trials For Hope founder and CEO, Jonathan Gray, said the group does this every year around Thanksgiving. The sandwiches are donated by Saint Ambrose Catholic Parish.

“It’s an opportunity for us to offer a little more to people who are falling between the cracks," said Gray.

Gray hand delivers the food to homebound residents, too.

“Try to just make sure people know they’re not forgotten," he said.

A simple gesture can go a long way.

“Jonathan is the best guy in the world," said Lakeview Terrace resident Lana Walker. "He helps me out tremendously. I would be in a bad bind because I’m on oxygen, so I can’t get out like others. So, he brings it to me and I really appreciate it.”

It’s about providing love, hope, and compassion to those who need it most.

“It’s good to break bread with your neighbor and we try to break bread with many," said Gray.

Trials For Hope is always planning new events to give back in addition to the work the team does every day.

On Dec. 18, the organization is hosting a toy giveaway at Lakewood United Methodist Church from 1 to 5 p.m. Some items will be sold for under a dollar to support Laura's Home Women's Crisis Center.