MIDDLEBURG, Fla. – Hundreds of Clay County families will celebrate Thanksgiving with a free meal as part of a Feeding the 5,000 event held by First Baptist Middleburg.
Families in need left the church with more than just a turkey dinner Tuesday.
Many are still recovering from Hurricane Irma, and they were greeted at the church with the spirit of giving as the congregation came together to fill more than 500 boxes with all of the Thanksgiving fixings, including turkey and pie.
"I got kids growing up, their clothes are not fitting them anymore, and they're eating more. It's hard, but we're managing,” Middleburg resident Melinda Wyerick said.
Each family received two boxes to take home
"That's going to help us for a month,” Dallas Wilson said.
Wilson's family is struggling financially. She strapped the food boxes to her bicycle. She said she's working to save up for a car.
"There's no way we were going to be able to get a turkey. We don't have the money for that,” Wilson said. "I'm really thankful for churches that do it. I really am."
Church volunteers helped pass out the meals and embraced some of the families who got emotional.
Extra boxes and food donations will be packed up and taken to local charities or added to the church's food pantry.
Senior pastor Bobby Lewis said he wanted to deliver more than just a Thanksgiving meal, he wanted to deliver a message.
"When people are down, those are when we go and love them and help them. That's exactly what our Savior did,” Lewis said.
The families walked away with a box of food -- and hope, joy and a sense of community.
"Sometimes, we just need a little help, and sometimes, it's a blessing when people like this do it for us,” Janet Brown said. “I hope the people that came out today realize that the Lord is out here to provide, even if you don't have the money."
First Baptist Middleburg leadership said this year's event was a success and that they hope to continue the Feeding the 5,000 program.