NewsPositively Hampton Roads


People Taking Action: Local family with needs of their own surprised for taking action to help those in need!

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 20:44:46-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -  People come looking for a hot meal every night, and the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, also known as the JCOC, opens their doors near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront to serve a community dinner to those in need.

The JCOC allow voluntary servers to come in to help - volunteers like Braedon Thomas.

At 12 years old, Braedon is ready to take action for the JCOC. It all started last year when Braedon was a 5th grader at Kingston Elementary. His classroom came and helped with serving at one of the community dinners, and afterwards he wanted to do more.

"It was fun. I got to meet new people. I also got to serve the homeless," explained Braedon.

His mother, Melissa Thomas, is very proud of her son. So, Melissa suggested putting together gift snack bags - 50 of them.

It was a family effort, including Braedon's 10-year-old brother. The Thomases returned the day after Christmas to pass them out. Braedon's dad, Billy Joe Thomas, believes this is an important family lesson.

Related: Norfolk woman gives to those in need with her 'giving tree'

"Well, you help the people that are less fortunate; everybody falls on hard times," said Billy Joe.

Kristin Ward, the JCOC'S Development Director, says when kids visit their facility with their school or place of worship, there's a connection.

"A lot of the kids primarily come here, and they just love it. They tell their parents and tell their community. They're some of our best advocates," said Kristin.

And after handing out the snack bags, Melissa says they came back again!

"We brought some clothing and some bedding and stuff.  We're going to serve it on February 14; we'll be here for Valentine's Day," Melissa explained.

It's worth pointing out that the Thomas family already have a lot on their plate. Braedon's younger brother has autism, and Melissa acknowledges her husband is facing some challenges.

"He's a veteran. He's got PTSD and now he's come up with MS [multiple sclerosis], so we're kinda dealing with that, too - taking it one step at a time."

For all those reasons, News 3 presented the Thomas family with a People Taking Action award along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner, Southern Bank.

For a complete list of volunteer opportunities and donation needs at the JCOC, call (757) 491-2846 or email You can also visit this link.

Do you know someone who's worthy of a People Taking Action award? Click here to nominate them!