JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of people enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal on the street Saturday when Clara White Mission closed down West Ashley Street from Jefferson to Broad streets for the 26th Annual Feed the City event.
Participants and volunteers said this year’s event, which featured 1,200 hot meals with all the fixings, was more vital than ever before.
“It means a great deal to me, at this time, because right now, I was hungry,” Larry Arline said.
Ninety-three volunteers helped prepare and serve the meals for the line of people that stretched from Clara White Mission Center, south a block to Church and Broad. At least 50 people were waiting in line for a Thanksgiving meal when our News4Jax cameras were there.
“Today, they are able to sit outside, social distancing, in the community, to be able to get testing for HIV, to get clothing, to get those things they need, during the holiday time,” said Ju’Coby Pittman, CEO of Clara White Mission and Jacksonville City Council member. “During this time, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, Black or white; if you need our service, we are that safety net.”
The need has only grown throughout this pandemic, and organizers said it’s good to keep in mind that you don’t have to be homeless to be hungry.
“We’re still doing a lot of the same services we have always provided, that hasn’t changed,” said Michelle Paul, Board president for Clara White Mission. “We are just having to change how we do things because of COVID.”
This year, the mission will not be serving a meal on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, the mission will be handing out to-go baskets and gift cards.
To ensure families are served this holiday season, Clara White Mission is soliciting the help of businesses, civic organizations, schools and faith-based organizations to participate by sponsoring a food drive or pledging a contribution for the holidays to www.clarawhitemission.org through PayPal.
Drop-off for food donations/contributions will be accepted from Wednesday, Nov. 25 until Tuesday, Dec. 22 at the Clara White Mission in historic LaVilla on the corner of Broad & Ashley streets.
For more information on how to donate or volunteer, call the Clara White Mission at 904-354-4162 or visit our web site at www.clarawhitemission.org.