Mandarin Food Bank gives meals to families

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's the season of giving thanks, and it's made possible for some local families by the Mandarin Food Bank.

The food bank gave away hundreds of meals Monday to people who couldn't afford a holiday meal.

The organization is made up of volunteers who make it their priority to feed the hungry.

"We've been doing this for over 20 years, and the amount of people we serve has gotten larger," said co-director Mary Kaminski. "We start weeks at a time collecting things and purchasing food, and we have a small army that packs the boxes. And for Thanksgiving we packed over 500 boxes."

With Thanksgiving coming up, volunteers did what they do every year: open their hearts and doors to help everyone who needs a meal get one.

"If we went out of business, it would be a good thing because then there wouldn't be a need," Kaminski said. "But with the economy and single parents and job loss and people, the working poor people who work part-time and barely make ends meet -- so if we can help them get through that, well, that's why we are here."

The food bank relies on donations, and people like Essie Floyd are grateful.

"We just continue to thank God on how good Jacksonville is and for this organization that gives us food," Floyd said.

So are mothers like Amanda Patterson.

"Very blessed," she said. "We would not have Thanksgiving if it wasn't for these guys."

The food bank gives food away throughout the year, but it holds big events before the holidays. It will host another big giveaway on Dec. 22 so families can have a meal for Christmas.

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