JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Though it is a season of giving, it is also a season when people need help.
As the holiday season begins, many people will go without unless someone steps up to provide assistance.
Cars lined up on Friday at Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field where 600 families were given a free Thanksgiving meal from the Jaguars and Feed Northeast Florida.
“When we started, we started with just a couple hundred turkeys. It grew into 400 last year, and now we are at 600. So we hope to continue maybe next year we get to 800 and continue to build off of that success,” said Adriel Rocha, Jaguars Foundation and Community Impact director.
Lynn Miller said she waited for four hours to receive a turkey as part of the “Turkey Time” Thanksgiving Giveaway hosted by Feeding Northeast Florida and the Jaguars Foundation.
“It’s needed. I needed it, and so the wait, I just had to do it,” Miller said. “With everything going up, and I’m a hairstylist. You know, hair is luxury, so it’s not always people are going to come in. So this helps me to be able to pay a bill.”
This is one of many charity events that are seeing an increase in demand as the cost of living rises.
It’s getting harder for people to feed their families. According to Feeding Northeast Florida, in the eight counties in Northeast Florida, 250,000 people do not know where their next meal will come from. Of those, 80,000 are children, so food drives and donations to charities are critical.
“The demand, the need is so great, we’ve seen about a 25% increase over the highest numbers during COVID,” said Susan King, Feeding Northeast Florida president and CEO. “Those needs are not going away.”
For Linda Blue’s family, each person brings a different item to ease the load on Thanksgiving Day — a day that she says is not just about food but also about fellowship. Blue said all of the vehicles lined up in Lot J shows there’s a big need.
“Everything is so expensive,” Blue said.
On Jacksonville’s Westside, bells were ringing Friday as the Salvation Army of Northeast Florida kicked off this year’s Red Kettle Campaign.
Major Keath Biggers, Salvation Army of Northeast Florida area commander, has worked with the charity for 40 years and has seen the need for help growing.
“It’s coming from that inflation, people finding difficulty with jobs paying for food these days, fuel and so forth,” Biggers said. “So, yes, inflation is a big part of it, but it just seems like more and more we are being asked to help more people each and every day.”
The goal is to raise $250,000. Donations are critical because it helps throughout the year from providing during holidays and safe shelters to food pantries and disaster aid.
The Salvation Army needs more Kettle Bell ringers to help bring in donations. If you would like to volunteer as a bell ringer, go to registertoring.com.
And while everyday life becomes costly, having a chance to help one another becomes more and more priceless.