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Kids at Roy Maas Youth Alternatives enjoy special Thanksgiving feast

About 120 children of Roy Maas Youth Alternatives were treated to a Thanksgiving feast thanks to the big heart of the owner of several Ruth Chris Steakhouses in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO — A Thanksgiving tradition 14 years in the making.

Sunday was the first Thanksgiving meal for many of the children living at the Roy Maas Youth Alternatives Emergency Shelter, Meadowland and Turning Point. 23-year-old Toby Darensbourg joined the program 10 years ago when he was having difficulties at home with him mom. "We love each other now, but it was very hard growing up with her, and they felt it was best to be there than around my mom at the time," he said.

He's now in their Turning Point program and says Roy Maas has lifted him up big time. "They are always helping me out with my confidence. They are always pushing me, always telling me, 'you can do it,'" Darensbourg said.

"We provide a transitional living program that gives them 18 months to figure out, 'how do I get a job, how do I budget my home finance, what things are really important to me, what do I want to learn, and what do I want to be taught,'" said Bill Wilkinson, the CEO of Roy Maas and has seen many kids turn their life around thanks to the program. "They are not condemned to what their past was, but they have a future that's completely dependent on where they want to go."

He said he couldn't be more grateful for this feast for the kids every year. "Lana just has this huge heart and she such a rockstar with the kids."

The owner of Ruth Chris, Lana Duke, added, "I started this 14 years ago today, and the reason I started it is because I was a foster child myself, and I wanted to give back to an organization that was in a similar situation as I was when I was a kid."

Duke brings out the turkey with all the trimmings every year, with the hopes of making a difference in these kids' lives. "What I hope for is they have a little more self-esteem when they leave and they believe that they can have a productive life," Duke said. "That they believe they are loved, and they believe they are in charge of their life, eventually they are totally in charge."