Thanksgiving baskets given to families transitioning from homelessness

Donations to allow Sulzbacher Village families to cook their own holiday meals

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dozens of families transitioning from homelessness will be able to prepare their own Thanksgiving meals thanks to generous donations.

Nearly 50 families living at Sulzbacher Village in Jacksonville's Brentwood neighborhood received Thanksgiving baskets on Monday.

"It's a blessing for me and my girls, a fresh start," said Tyshondra Bell, who received one of the Thanksgiving baskets. 

Before moving into the affordable housing unit, Bell and her three teenage daughters were homeless.

"I lost my place," Bell said. "I struggled but as long as me and my girls were together, that's what mattered."

Bell's family is just one of dozens still transitioning from homelessness and not able to afford a Thanksgiving meal. Most use the bus every day to get to work. That's why JTA (Jacksonville Transportation Authority) Cares, along with the Amalgamated Transit Union, decided to chip in.

After collecting donations, they were able to fill baskets with all the fixings, such as stuffing, gravy and veggies.

Some of the families living at Sulzbacher Village told News4Jax that this will be the first time they won't be burdened with having to figure out where they are going to get their Thanksgiving meal.

Some of the people who decided to help aren't so different from those on the receiving end.

"For me, it's sentimental because when I was younger, I remember my mom going and getting baskets for us to provide for us for Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Dwayne Russell, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1197.

Russell and other volunteers with JTA were able to provide 42 baskets for families in need.

Russell said it's all about giving back to his community. He plans to continue organizing the event, making it bigger and better next year. 

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