• Sir Elton John surprises man when he delivers 25 millionth meal for Open Hand Atlanta

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    ATLANTA - Before he hit the stage for a 21-song set list Friday night at Music Midtown, Sir Elton John took the time to deliver dinner to a midtown man.

    Craig Gustafson had been a little worried that Music Midtown traffic might keep volunteers with Open Hand Atlanta from bringing his meal.

    When he got a knock at the door, not only was he relieved but also in disbelief that Elton John was the one holding his meal.

    “What an honor,” Gustafson said. “He’s been fighting for this cause for years and he’s beyond a celebrity. He’s an icon to us. For him to have even 10 minutes to honor me with his time, I’m just blown away.”

    Not only was the meal delivered by someone special, but it was also Open Hand Atlanta’s 25 millionth meal served in the community.

    Elton John with Craig Gustafson

    John, a part-time Atlanta resident and passionate HIV/AIDS advocate, was originally drawn to Open Hand Atlanta’s mission as a volunteer in the early '90’s, and he has remained an avid supporter, delivering the agency’s one millionth meal, granting funds through the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and personally contributing to Open Hand’s recent capital expansion project, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jennifer Brett.

    John said he was glad to be back in his “American home” over the weekend and was pleased to spend part of his time volunteering with Open Hand Atlanta.

    “The work we do every day serves as a profound example of what is possible when a community comes together to help our friends and neighbors in need,” said Matthew Pieper, Open Hand Atlanta’s executive director. “To serve our 25 millionth meal after 27 years of service is a very proud moment for all our dedicated volunteers and staff. There’s a lot of love that stands behind each and every one of those meals.”

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