Chef helps families feel at home with Thanksgiving dinner

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – It can be one of the most difficult ways to spend Thanksgiving, away from family and far from home while a child is getting medical care.

Marty Emerson is more than just a chef at Huntington’s Kitchen. Emerson is the kind of man who sees a need and does something about it.

“I talked to them and I was like, ‘Hey, does anyone make Thanksgiving for the families that are here?’ and they said no and I was like, ‘Well, I would like to do it,” Emerson said.

There are 17 families from all over the region at the Ronald McDonald House in Huntington. Those families stay there while their little one gets care at the hospital next door. These families won’t get tot spend Thanksgiving getting second helpings of grandma’s mashed potatoes. So, Emerson tries to make it feel a little more at home.

Jaye Toler is the Director of Development for RMH and she says this is something the whole house looks forward to all year.

“It’s trying to fill a little hole in their heart,” Toler said. “That’s the best way I can describe it.”

It’s more than just food from the kitchen. It’s also that special ingredient that comes straight from Emerson’s heart. There’s comfort in food and when Emerson is making it – it’s a meal to remember. But not just because of how good it tastes.

“He’s so warm and kind to the families,” Toler said. “So, as they’re coming in and out he’s talking with them, he’s loving on them, he’s looking at pictures of their babies.”

Helping parents in one of the most vulnerable times in their lives, Emerson says with every bite these families will know they’re not alone.

“Being able to do that for people and give them a nice, home-cooked meal so they can kind of forget what they’re going through for a minute is always nice,” Emerson said.

Emerson says he’s been doing it for three years and has no plans of stopping.

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