TAMPA (FOX 13) - If you've lived in the Tampa Bay Area awhile, you've probably heard of Mr. Lupton's BBQ and Catering. Mr. Lupton opened the restaurant on Busch Boulevard in Tampa back in 1969.
But Mr. Lupton does much more for than serve up some of the best barbeque in town; he shares his good fortune with children in need.
"I have a spot in my heart for foster children," said Mr. Lupton.
Mr. Lupton was a foster child until his grandmother adopted him when he was just two-years-old. He says he knows exactly what it's like to feel unwanted and alone.
"It breaks an old man down," said Mr. Lupton.
So every year, he spreads a little joy with a huge party at his ranch in Plant City and he invites every Bay Area foster child and their families.
It started off small 27 years ago with just 10 people. Now, the celebration has grown to 600.
“If one child sees something there that helps change his life. It's worth every bit of it. It's worth every year of it,” Mr. Lupton told FOX 13.
He's made good friends along the way, like Christina. She's been to the last 12 picnics and writes Mr. Lupton a thank-you card every year.
“The sweet treats, the dancing too, none of this would be possible without you. So thank you, Mr. Lupton, for all you do,” writes Christina.
It's letters like that that inspire Mr. Lupton to give back. His only regret is his wish to do more.
“If I could, I’d take over all the foster children. I would. I'd have them all come and live with me – all thousands and thousands of them,” said Mr. Lupton, “But I can't do that. But I’m not going to let what I can't do interfere with what I can do, and I can do a picnic.”
It's a sweet gift from a kind man who has a flair for good food, and a heart for helping others.