'Miracle on Hudson' survivor gives back with gobblers

Casey Jones donates 440 turkeys for Salvation Army's giveaway

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After living through a high-profile, near-death experience, a Julington Creek man is giving back to the community.

Casey Jones was a passenger aboard US Airways Flight 1549, which struck a flock of geese and crash-landed safely in the Hudson River. Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, who landed the plane, was the subject of the 2016 film "Sully," featuring the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson.”

"For no reason, other than the outlook it's given me on life, I'd go through it again. Since that day -- that was a terrifying 5½ minutes, plus the time waiting for rescue -- it really gives me an appreciation for each and every day,” Jones said.

Shortly after the "Miracle on the Hudson," Jones heard a radio story about the local Salvation Army losing one of its big turkey donors.

"I knew I needed to do something and take what I went through and those lessons I learned and put them to practice, because talk's easy,” Jones said.

Year after year, he's been collecting donations and buying birds. This year, he donated 440 turkeys, which were hauled into the Salvation Army warehouse Friday in boxes and pulled into the freezer.

Volunteers at the Salvation Army are busy preparing for this year's Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway, by filling care packages with all the fixings, such as canned vegetables, stuffing and turkeys donated by Jones.

Hundreds of families will be lined up Tuesday outside the Salvation Army to pick up their turkey and fixings. The registration for the free turkey giveaway is over, but if you need assistance or know of a family that does, contact the Holiday Assistance Program at 904-301-4791 or visit http://www.salvationarmyflorida.org/jacksonville/our-programs/holiday-assistance.

For other assistance from the Salvation Army:

  • Jacksonville Area Command -- 904-301-4875
  • Clay County Corps -- 904-276-6677
  • St. Augustine Worship Center -- 904-824-6956
  • Nassau County Hope House -- 904-321-0435