It's a common phrase that stores use to promote their business: "We are committed to serving our customers' needs."

Lowe's Companies Inc., the home-improvement chain, recently backed up its word. In light of Hurricane Sandy, which put many people out of their homes and affected their income, coupled with Thanksgiving, the company recently paired with Boston Markets to provide Thanksgiving meals for more than 136,000 people Nov. 21, the day before the holiday.

Thirty-five Lowe's locations across New Jersey and New York, areas that were hit hardest by the storm, were used as pickup sites for the free meals. The parking lot of Lowe's in Rio Grande was one such stop.

From noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 21, hundreds of people came to the location to pick up a free, hot and ready-made Thanksgiving meals, each serving a family of six.

"I keep saying this is the nicest thing the company has done in the 12 years I've worked here," said Branch Manager Dan Hawkins.

In all, the Rio Grande store gave out 650 meals, each including a turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, rolls and pies. They had less than a week's notice about the community-service project, yet the employees of the Rio Grande Lowe's decided to take it a step further and set up tables of gently used and donated clothing and nonperishable food items to give away during the Thanksgiving meal distribution, Human Resources Manager Aisha Brathwaite said.

The employees sorted the clothing into gender and size categories and laid it out on long tables, with a nearby table covered with nonperishable food.

Brathwaite said the idea was to give those in need a true shopping experience by allowing people to look through the clothing and select what they would like to take home. She said she was humbled by the generosity of so many of the store's employees who gave to the cause, some of whom are in need, too.

In addition to distributing food and clothing, Lowe's committed $1 million to assist victims of Hurricane Sandy, including $500,000 to the American Red Cross, $250,000 to Rebuilding Together and $100,000 to the Boy & Girls Club of America.

"It makes me proud to work here," Brathwaite said.

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