Groups give Thanksgiving meals to needy

Second Harvest hands out 2,000 meals at EverBank Field

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's the season of giving, and Friday a lot of people did just that.

Nearly 2,000 meals were handed out at EverBank Field, and each meal included turkey, stuffing, bread, corn and fruit.

Bruce Ganger, the executive director of Second Harvest North Florida, said those on the receiving end are always grateful.

"For these families that are here today, they wouldn't have a Thanksgiving dinner if it wasn't for what they are receiving today," he said.

This year marked the third time the food bank handed out meals to the needy at EverBank Field before Thanksgiving. It was hoping to help more families this time around, but donations are down.

"We only had enough for 2,000 dinners, so we turned an awful lot of folks away," Ganger said. "We just ran out of food and funding to provide the dinner."

Another group that will hand out meals Saturday is Here's Life Inner City Jacksonville. It gives a meal in a box called Boxes of Love. Inside the box is enough food to feed a family of six, and a ham comes along with it.

This is the 12th year the group has been handing out the boxes, and this year about 78 churches came together to make it possible.

"Thanksgiving, which should be a joyful occasion, might not be," said Ben Goldsmith, the city director of Here's Life Inner City Jacksonville.

He said that's why they do the giveaway.

"Giving thanks to all the blessings that we have and to help these people have a good Thanksgiving," second-year volunteer Joanne Krause said.

One way the group is a little different from others: They're taking extra steps to reach across language barriers, with boxes of Christian literature written in Spanish, and Spanish-speaking people who deliver the meals. Hector Ortiz is a Hispanic pastor who's been doing this for seven years.

"And you see people in need sometimes not having anything to give to their kids, and when they see you with the box they start crying," Ortiz said.

If you missed out helping these groups, you can still help. The Salvation Army has a goal of getting 1,000 turkeys by Saturday to feed those in need. As of Friday, it only had 378.

To donate a turkey or to give a monetary donation to these groups, click the links below:

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