Man donates 100 holiday meals with loan money for dental work

BATH, Mich. — John LaRue has always been a man of service.

“I’ve been involved in police fire, EMS, nine one dispatch Marine Corps since I was 19,” LaRue said.

Once in a while doing something for himself.

“I’ve had bad teeth all my life and it came time that me and the teeth had to part company,” LaRue said. “So I thought, okay, get dentures implants, all that.”

But then changing his mind.

“They’re great, but they’re not a necessity and people eating is,” LaRue said.

This year, CEO of the Greater Lansing Food Bank Michelle Lantz said shelves are empty.

“We are about 50 percent, lower in the food that we have on our shelves from the USDA alone and that’s simply due to the food food chain crisis that we’re all facing,” Lantz said.

But because of the rising cost of food, more people are heading to the food bank.

“That’s the one thing people are starting to purchase less of, because they don’t have as much money in their monthly budgets,” Lantz said.

All this during a time where families are headed to the food bank to have a holiday meal on their table.

“We are seeing about 25 percent increase, which is almost to the point of what we were during the height of the pandemic,” Lantz said.

It’s people like John that mean so much.

“I call it project Olaf, which I know it’s been used, operation Loaves and Fishes,” LaRue said.

“It is so unusual to find an individual like John who is willing to give up something that they really need themselves,” Lantz said.

John took out a personal loan to get some dental work done, but then decided to do something else.

“I used the money for the implants I chose not to get, to pay for this,” LaRue said.

Donating Thanksgiving meals for families to the food bank.

“3,168 pounds,” LaRue said.

“100 families are being served,” Lantz said. “So that’s 100 turkeys, and 100 of the other items that would go into a Thanksgiving meal that he was able to organize, arrange for purchase, and get to us so we could get it out to the community.”

Little did he know, this would be a full circle moment. The community where most of the meals were donated, John already delivers for Meals on Wheels to help the people who live there.

Because once a man of service always a man of service.

“Makes you feel like I did my job,” LaRue said. “You can’t just say ‘oh, I think I’m gonna be a grocery store clerk then.’ It’s with you all the time. Once you put that badge on, you never take it off again.”

Spreading a little joy just in time for the holidays.

“These little glimmers of hope really give you faith that the human spirit is alive, and that people really are generous, deep down,” Lantz said.

“Hope this makes your Thanksgiving day a little brighter, Doc,” LaRue said.

John said he got a lot of his training from No Senior Without Christmas.

As for John’s dental work, he got dentures to get him by for now. He said people being able to eat means more to him than getting his teeth fixed. Now, 100 families can eat this holiday.

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