Thanksgiving came early for area veterans when local nonprofit The Group - BAMDC served over 300 meals and gave away free turkeys and hams in honor of Veterans Day. The event took place at Napoli’s Italian Restaurant, and group members were thrilled with its success.

The event was co-sponsored by Advanced Cannabis, and owner Reginald Thompson said all of the free turkeys and hams were gone within about two hours.

“We gave out 100 turkeys and hams today,” Thompson said Monday afternoon. “We were going to do 200, but I thought since this was our first time, not many people would know it was happening. It turned out way bigger than we were expecting.”

Thompson, who is an active member of The Group, said they are planning on hosting a similar Veterans Day event next year, and they are looking into potentially offering a delivery service. Veterans Day holds special significance to Thompson whose father is a Vietnam War veteran.

“My daddy served two terms in Vietnam,” Thompson said. “I was able to get a scholarship to go to college from the GI Bill, so this is my way to give back on Veterans Day.”

The Group is composed of certified OMMA patients and medical marijuana businesses that enjoy giving back to the community. Member DeAllen Walton works at Advanced Cannabis, and he said one of their goals is to reduce the stigma attached to medical marijuana.

“At Advanced Cannabis we want to give back to the community, and we want to end the stigma that money from a dispensary is somehow bad,” Walton said. “It’s not bad money that we’re trying to give back. We’re trying to bridge the gap between the dispensary and the people. Not just the patients, but others in the community who don’t have a card.”

Walton said The Group first began in January, and they have already hosted multiple events. Earlier this month, they held a fall festival with all proceeds going to Toys for Tots. In addition to a large trunk full of toys, they raised approximately $700 for the organization.

“We just want to show that the cannabis community is all love,” Walton said. “We’re not bad people. There’s a lot of good hearts out there, and we’re just trying to show that.”