Second Harvest North Florida and Wells Fargo worked with a coalition of local businesses and community organizations to provide Thanksgiving meals for up to 2,500 Jacksonville area families in need this year.
The dinners were distributed Friday at EverBank Field.
"I'm very, very excited, so excited I got here about 5:30 this morning to see about getting a Thanksgiving dinner," said Yvonne Medina. "God always makes a way for you when there is no other way, and I just thank him."
The event provided families with ready-to-prepare meal packages including a frozen turkey, canned vegetables, boxed potatoes and stuffing, as well as canned fruit. Other perishable foods such as produce and bread were distributed based on availability.
"It's a blessing to be here this Thanksgiving to get a free turkey and all the items," said Barbara Palmer, who was one of the first in line. "I just thank God that for the community and whoever else helped."
In addition to financial support from Wells Fargo and boxed stuffing supplied by Black Diamond Performance Reporting, volunteers from The Blood Alliance, CH Robinson, Evergreen Baptist Church, LiftPower, CarMax and Second Harvest helped distribute food.
Second Harvest staff and volunteers arrived at EverBank Field early Friday morning to prepare for the thousands of people in need of food who attended the event. Families began lining up as early as 6 p.m. Thursday.
"These folks are struggling in their homes to be able to keep things held together, and that's why we want them here, that's why we want to be able to help them," said Bruce Ganger, of Second Harvest Food Bank.
Second Harvest said the food came from donations and from money allotted from the U.S. government.
Other organizations also provided further information and support for families in need:
- The Salvation Army provided coffee and water for families and volunteers.
- Wells Fargo gave out goodie bags for children who showed up to the event.
- ElderSource set up a mobile resource unit to help senior citizens who had questions about Medicaid, SNAP, etc.