Dr. John Kelley of Kelley Orthodontics and his wife, Alison, envisioned an outreach in which the smiles of Fort Worth would reach deep into the hearts of the city. He determined to do something radical in his community by pulling people together in order to bless others with more than a beautiful smile.

What started with 60 Thanksgiving turkeys has grown into a movement across the state. Since he began practicing orthodontics in 1999, Dr. Kelley traditionally gave turkeys to his referring dentists during the holidays. In 2012, with the support of his dental colleagues, John and Alison Kelley, founders of Live Thankfully, decided to redirect their efforts and reach out to neighboring schools and to families who were struggling to put a Thanksgiving meal on the table.

Alison and John worked closely with 3 local schools, their counselors and students. The process began with education and changing the way kids think about service and giving. Alison spent countless hours with her student leaders, teaching them how to conduct successful food drives with friendly competitions. The food from these drives served as side dishes to the turkeys. The students were highly motivated and eager to help.

Following three weeks of food drives, Kelley Orthodontics hosted a parking lot party to bag all the canned goods. That first Live thankfully year, the schools collected enough food to fill 500 bags of groceries and feed 60 families turkey dinners!

Seven years later, Live Thankfully is giving well over 2000 meals away to families in need across Texas. Live Thankfully now takes place in numerous satellite cities including Lubbock, Decatur, Granbury, and Cleaburne.

Live Thankfully is not another “turkey handout” nor another “canned food drive”. We are about empowering the next generation to be lifelong givers of their communities.  We aren’t just serving meals, we are preparing young hearts for service. It is our goal to tear down walls and build bridges of trust between families in need and their school administrators. Live Thankfully is a life style, it is a way of living that brings dignity and pride to our families in need and establishes a lifestyle of service in our future leaders.

The Vision, Mission, and Values

Vision: Live Thankfully empowers young learners to be leaders and lifelong contributors in their communities.

Mission: Live Thankfully is a series of service projects involving local schools and businesses that provides student leadership training and community enrichment through food drives and  holiday meals.

Values: relationships, leadership, community, dignity, compassion

Live Thankfully Calling and History

Let us love not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
– 1 John 3:18

Dr. John Kelley of Kelley Orthodontics began giving holiday meals to families in need in the area surrounding his office and worked with counselors of 5 schools to provide meals to 65 families.

Kelley Orthodontics partnered with dental offices and 10 schools to provide 400 meals to families. “Extending our smiles to the hearts and stomachs of the Fort Worth community” became the motto.

Live Thankfully gained 501c3 nonprofit status. Corporate sponsors partnered and volunteers doubled.

Live Thankfully empowered 10,000 student leaders, worked with 22 schools, coordinated over 1000 volunteers, and fed 620 families in need.

Live Thankfully hired an executive director and completed a 32 hour “Ministry Done Well” program through Cornerstone Assistance Network.

The Ministry Model

  • Live Thankfully targets local students and their families.
  • Live Thankfully empowers young learners to be future leaders through student leadership training.
  • Live Thankfully helps students conduct food drives and provides an opportunity for students and volunteers to package these food items. These groceries are donated to families in need within their school communities.
  • Growth is organic due to the excitement and interest of those involved. We host a yearly luncheon, write quarterly newsletters to sponsors and supporters, and use social media outlets to share information.
  • Live Thankfully expands upon the relationships students have with each other to teach leadership and service. Since those receiving meals serve alongside those who give, students recognize the needs of those around them. LT provides support while maintaining dignity.
  • By investing in our future leaders, we are securing the future of our great community.