Wing King to host drive-thru backpack giveaway

Staff Writer

When Garnett and Jeri Odneal began their dream with a food truck in 2015, they had the hope that it would become a successful brick and mortar restaurant. It has become the go-to restaurant for chicken wings in West Point. Now the Odneals have a way to give back to the community, that has continued to support them, in spite of a global pandemic.
"We had no way to know when all restaurants were being ordered to close, what the outcome would be for us," Garnett Odneal, co-owner of Wing King, said. " When we were moving into the building five years ago, the drive-thru window wasn't functional. We had no way to know that fixing the drive-thru window would save us. We have always had drive-thru service, but now that is our only way to do business. After being allowed to reopen, we have utilized that drive - thru to continue to offer great wings and catfish to West Point."

The drive-thru window will allow the Odneals to be a benefactor to children who need backpacks and school supplies. All children needing backpacks must be present in the car.
"My cousin, Heather Bennet, has had a great career in the military," Odneal said. "She began a group called Enchanted Inner(g) to help with projects in Mississippi. She asked if I could provide a location for the group to provide backpacks with school supplies to children in the area. So we will be giving away 250 backpacks today, Saturday, July 25, from 1 - 3 p.m. or as long as they last. The restaurant will still be serving, so you can order lunch while you're here."

Benett's family was originally from West Point, until they moved to Memphis Tennessee.
"I came back to West Point for my senior year in high school," Benett said. "I wanted to graduate from the same school my mother did. I am a Captain in the Mississippi National Guard, 184 ESC in Monticello. I was serving in Kuwait when I started Enchanted Inner(g), and a friend of mine in Kuwait has begun Project Impact Mississippi. So I made it my business to do a backpack giveaway. Together we are providing backpacks in rural areas of the state."

Benett said she was having problems finding locations around the state that would allow her organization to use the facilities due to the novel coronavirus. That was when she called her cousin Garnett Odneal to ask for help.
"I was thrilled with the opportunity to be part of such an important undertaking," Odneal said. "We were more than willing to help and have purchased supplies ourselves to add to the backpacks. This community has helped us to remain open by continuing to buy our products and this is a perfect way to give back to the community."
Benett said she has been in contact with school administrators, faculty and parents to find out what the needs are for school this year.
"We found out a lot of students will need graph paper," Benett said. "So there is graph paper, jump drives, spiral notebooks, pencils, markers, pens and all sorts of things children need for school."
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are offering distance learning in addition to sitting in a classroom for instruction.
"We understand some children may not return to an actual classroom but will be learning via a computer, laptop, or other electronic means," Benette said. "Those students still need supplies, and a backpack makes the perfect place to store completed work. It is a great way to keep school work in one place and ready for the next day."

Benett said most of the funds for the project have been raised online .
"We had a starting goal of $30,000," Benett said. "We raised $68,000. So we are giving away backpacks and schools supplies in many areas of Mississippi. We hope to be able to continue the event every year. Our goal is to come back next year and have 500 backpacks to giveaway at each location."
Odneal said his family and extended family have always been community oriented. This was a perfect opportunity to serve this community and its young people.
"The coronavirus has impacted so many people," Odneal said. "Several members of my church, Union Star M.B. Church, have succumbed to the virus and we have lost family members."
Odneal said as a business owner, we are running on a limited staff. People have lost their jobs. Those who were just barely getting by are in financial trouble. This is a way to can help those people with the expense of school supplies. It gives them one less thing to worry about. That is why we are here on this earth to help one another.

To receive a backpack and school supplies, come to the drive-thru window at Wing King today, Saturday, July 25, from 1 - 3 p.m. Children must be present to receive a backpack.