JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Thanksgiving gets closer, the need for the popular fixings at the table is growing. There have already been several food giveaways locally to help those in need.
Dozens of volunteers made people’s days brighter Saturday at a Farm Share giveaway in Jacksonville with enough supplies and food for more than 2,500 households.
The line of cars began forming at 3 a.m. and stretched around FSCJ’s Downtown Campus and into the neighboring streets, eventually causing traffic back-ups that forced the giveaway to start 30 minutes early at 8 a.m.
LIST: Turkey giveaways, food distribution events ahead of Thanksgiving in Northeast Florida
Among those taking advantage was Tony Mongerri, who said times have been rough for his family, and this act of kindness is meeting a desperate need for them.
“My son is out of work now, and I am on Social Security disability,” Mongerri said. “I have been disabled the last few years, and it’s been hard to make ends meet. Rent went up $600 more a month -- food, groceries. Unbelievable.
“It is a good feeling to know that people are here to help you,” he said.
People like first responder Capt. Bobby Cates with Florida Highway Patrol.
“This is what you work for. This is the reason why I took the job,” Cates said. “You always want to help people, but most of the time your interactions with folks are not in a positive light. When you are here and you can support a community and do something positive and have a positive interaction, you get to meet people on a different plane.”
Former NFL players were also among the volunteers, including Paul Posluszny, who spent seven seasons with the Jaguars as a middle linebacker.
“It is powerful to see the amount of people who are here to help and the amount of people that need some assistance,” Posluszny said. “Any little bit that we can do is beneficial.”
According to Farm Share, 3.9 million families are suffering from food insecurity throughout Florida.
The charity’s facility manager, Matthew Galen, said inflation, leading to higher costs of things like groceries and gas, is having a strain on people from all walks of life.
“It is not just the lower income community. We are seeing a lot of different types of people come through here,” Galen said. “You can see it here with all of the different types of cars. There is no shame in hunger. Everybody goes through it.”
The goal of Saturday’s giveaway, he said, was to ease a burden.
And recipients like Mongerri were grateful.
“I have been depressed a lot,” Mongerri said, “and this has really lightened my holiday.”