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Brooklyn mother cooks and later serves Thanksgiving meal to New Yorkers on L train

Brooklyn woman serves Thanksgiving feast on L train
Brooklyn woman serves Thanksgiving feast on L train 02:23

NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn woman invited all of New York City to her Thanksgiving dinner this week, setting up a whole meal inside a subway car to feed strangers.

CBS2's Hannah Kliger has more on the story behind the viral movement.

Videos are circling online, many with more than 1 million views, showing strangers happily eating a Thanksgiving meal together on the L train.

"Multiple people mentioned, 'I'm not going to see my family this year. I'm not able to have a big gathering,' and they were really grateful," said Haylee Pentek of Williamsburg.

Pentek was coming home from work on Tuesday night when she, along with dozens of other commuters, was surprised with a heaping plate of food.

"They also had so many dinners and boxed meals. They were really making sure that everyone who needed or wanted food had an opportunity to eat," Pentek said.

Brandi Baxter, a single mom of three from East New York, is the chef behind it all. She was involved in a similar stunt with a group of friends back in 2019. This year, she decided to bring it back -- this time with just her kids.

"When they got on the train, they're like 'What's going on? What is this?' A couple of ladies were like, 'Do you need help?'" Baxter said.

They loaded the food, table, and settings at the Livonia Avenue station, and then took the L train all the way to Union Square, where they set up the table. That's when everyone on the train was invited for dinner.

"I was like, 'This is Thanksgiving,' on the train, and everybody was like 'Oooh' and I'm like, 'Get a plate.' I don't think they expected to be fed. They thought it was maybe something else, but when I said, 'Let's eat,' that was it," Baxter said.

But her dinner party gets more meaningful when you learn her story. Less than a year ago, Baxter and her kids were homeless, and struggled to put food on the table, themselves.

"That's what it was about, just loving on people. New York is not as bad as they make it seem. I know we have a lot going on right now, but this to be a ray of sunshine, I'm here for it," Baxter said.

She cooked for two days and made enough food to fill around 160 bellies.

"I wasn't really having a great day that day and just to see people helping us give back to the community was fun," daughter Kamara Fraser said.

But a few stops in, the train went out of service. Eventually, passengers were asked to step off, and Baxter cleared the table. But she wasn't done. She took the leftovers to her community to feed the people she saw in the streets.

"You should always give back, no matter what you have, or even if you have a dollar or a quarter, always give it to a person in need," son Aziah Fraser said.

Baxter is still not done. As CBS2 met her, she was on her way to drop off boxes of clothing at a local church. This mom shows her gratitude through acts of service, and it's not just on Thanksgiving, but year round.

Baxter said she even offered the food to the MTA conductor and other staff, who were glad to see her there. She said she thinks the train was stopped because of traffic ahead -- not because of the dinner. An MTA spokesperson had no comment.

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