Man donates 100 holiday meals with money loaned for dental treatment


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

“I’ve been involved with police fire, EMS, Nine One dispatch Marine Corps since I was 19,” LaRue said.

Occasionally do something for himself.

“I’ve had bad teeth my whole life and it came time that me and the teeth had to part ways,” LaRue said.

But then change your mind.

“They’re great, but they’re not a necessity and people who eat are,” LaRue said.

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

“We’re about 50% lower in food than we have on our USDA shelves alone and that’s just down to the food chain crisis that we’re all facing,” Lantz said.

But due to the rising cost of food, more and more people are turning to the food bank.

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

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

“We’re seeing an increase of about 25%, which is almost to the point of what we were at the height of the pandemic,” Lantz said.

It’s people like John who matter so much.

“I call it Project Olaf, which I know was used, Operation Loaves and Fishes,” LaRue said.

“It’s so unusual to find an individual like John who is willing to give up something he really needs,” Lantz said.

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

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

Donate Thanksgiving meals for families at the food bank.

“3,168 pounds,” LaRue said.

“100 families are 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 arrange, arrange the purchase and reach out to us so we could get it to the community.”

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

Because one day a service man always a service man.

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

Spreading a little cheer just in time for the holidays.

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

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

John said he received much of his training from No Senior Without Christmas.

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

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