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Hundreds of Jacksonville military families receive free turkeys at drive-thru USO event

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Three hundred military families in need will be getting a little extra help for the holiday’s thanks to Winn-Dixie, the Greater Jacksonville USO and current and former Jaguars players.

Winn-Dixie, Jaguars' defensive end Lerentee McCray and former Jaguar Drayton Florence donated 300 turkeys for a drive-thru food distribution Tuesday night in Neptune Beach.

This is something that I wanted to do," McCray said. “I have a little extra time because I opted out of playing football this year due to COVID, so I wanted to give back to people in the city of Jacksonville and my hometown as well for Thanksgiving.”

Winn-Dixie representatives said they know 2020 has been a difficult time for many families, and Tuesday’s event is one of 22 events hosted by Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie and Harveys.

The company is giving away 8,075 frozen turkeys to communities throughout the Southeast to help the more than 50 million people, including 17 million children, who may experience food insecurity this year, according to Feeding America.

“They’re getting a full turkey dinner, a 16 to 24 pound turkey with everything you need to fill your holiday meal," said Jesse Owens, a Winn Dixie store manager.

For Tuesday’s event at the Neptune Beach Winn-Dixie in Penman Plaza, the USO invited 300 active-duty and veteran families to receive the turkeys and other holiday meal essentials. The event was by invitation only and was not open to the public.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, participants were encouraged to wear protective equipment during the drive-thru event.

Other upcoming local Winn-Dixie giveaways include

  • Macclenny: Feeding Northeast Florida and the Baker County Council on Aging on Nov. 18
  • St. Augustine: Feeding Northeast Florida and Family Worship Center on Nov. 19
  • Fernandina Beach: Elm Street Sportsman Association on Nov. 20
  • Palatka: Feeding Northeast Florida and Epic Cure on Nov. 20
  • Jacksonville: Feeding Northeast Florida on Nov. 21

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