Food banks asking for help for holidays

Hundres of families say they won't have Thanksgiving meal without help

Author: Elizabeth Campbell, General assignment reporter, ecampbell@wjxt.com
Steve Patrick, Managing editor of digital content, spatrick@news4jax.com
Published On: Nov 15 2013 05:28:54 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 15 2013 07:20:24 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, area food banks are putting in extra hours getting ready for extra holiday demand.

Many families in our area wouldn't even have a Thanksgiving dinner if it weren't for food banks, but the food banks won't be able to supply them without donations -- particularly of turkeys.

The Mandarin Food Bank, Clara White and Second Harvest Food Bank combined will provide meals to more than 4,000 people this Thanksgiving. The donations have been coming in strong -- and they need those donations to continue coming.

"They're hoping if they get 500 or 600 (turkeys), everyone will be distributed," said John Fuentes of the Mandarin Lions Club.

The Lions Club donated $1,000 and many boxes of food to the Mandarin Food Bank on Friday morning. This is to help the organization provide more than 500 turkeys to those in need this Thanksgiving. While that donation is huge, it won't be enough to meet the demand.

"Right now, the food bank has a lot of volunteers that will scour the county for turkeys that are on sale to provide the needy and the food bank," said John Fuentes of the Lions Club

The Clara White Mission is also working extra hours, preparing to serve four to 500 homeless and low-income people on Thanksgiving, as well as feeding 1,200 more people the week before Thanksgiving. And that's not all.

"We do a community event for the homeless, and homeless vets as well, and we actually select about 100 families... to give those meals to. They have to be screened. We want to make sure those families are actually in need and have a nutritious meal and not only for Thanksgiving Day," said Ju'Coby Pittman, CEO Clara White.

Working with the Clara White Mission is Second Harvest North Florida. Next Friday from 9 a.m. to noon at EverBank Field, the organization will hand out 2,500 Thanksgiving meals. Each person will get three of these bags -- filled with food for not only Thanksgiving, but possibly a full week.

Every one of them will thank us and tell us and they will say, 'Without you, without this, we would not have a Thanksgiving dinner that we could gather around with our families and friends," said Bruce Ganger with Second Harvest.

All three organizations are asking for turkeys and monetary donations.