From Palm Beach to Broward and Miami-Dade counties, homeless and other needy families and individuals got a Thanksgiving cheer from elected officials and various organizations.
In Riviera Beach, Yvonne Phillips of TD Bank, 12-year-old volunteer Tierra Lark and other volunteers served food to the homeless at Jesus And You Outreach Ministries — known as J.A.Y. Ministries, on Avenue S. The nonprofit organization was established in 1993 with a mission of “recovering lives, restoring families and revitalizing neighborhoods affected by drug and alcohol addiction.”
In Boynton Beach, students at Poinciana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Magnet Elementary School again got an opportunity to learn the importance of giving and being thankful at this time of year. They took part in the school’s annual Thanksgiving “Food for Families Drive.”
Students were encouraged to bring canned food, dry goods and frozen turkeys to help families who are struggling financially. Along with teachers and staff, they gathered enough supplies to provide more than 100 families with complete Thanksgiving meals.
Every family in need received a 10- to 20-pound turkey and a bag of groceries for all the fixings. A total of 1,476 pounds of food and 1,056 pounds of turkey was collected by the students and community donors.
“This was truly a lesson in giving as well as being thankful,” said Vicki Spitalnick, who coordinated the event along with Principal Ann Clark and Assistant Principal Clintia Bloom.
In Lauderdale Lakes, what her office described as a “very dignified event” was coordinated by state Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderhill, at which more than 100 homeless and needy families were treated to a Thanksgiving meal and provided with clothing and personal hygiene items.
The event took place Nov. 19 in the Garden Center at the Lauderdale Lakes Walmart.
In an effort to reach the homeless, organizers and supporters spent several days visiting bus shelters, shopping plazas and strip malls to get the word out and contacted social service departments in the neighboring cities, veterans organizations, schools and churches.
Sponsors included Walmart and Enterprise Leasing in Lauderdale Lakes.
Support also came from the Greater Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Caribbean American Cultural Coalition, Caribbean Vibes Marketing, Unity New Testament Church, Ambassador SDA Church and New Life Fellowship Center.
In Miami-Dade, state Sen. Larcenia Bullard and her son, state Rep. Dwight Bullard, both Democrats of Cutler Bay, Miami-Dade County Commission Vice Chairman Audrey Edmonson and Commissioner Barbara Jordan were among the many officials who hosted Thanksgiving events for the needy.
The Bullards provided Thanksgiving baskets to more than 270 families on Nov. 19 that each included a turkey with all the fixings of vegetables, cornbread, stuffing, potatoes and juice in their fourth annual event.
The giveaway was also sponsored by the Richmond-Perrine Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, The Johnny L. King Lodge #767 PHA and The Bethune OES Chapter #36 PHA.
Needy people who were given the baskets came from Homestead, Florida City, Cutler Bay, Princeton, Goulds, Redland, South Miami Heights, Richmond Heights, West Perrine, Leisure City and Miami.
They were identified for the help by We Care of South Dade, Goulds Coalition of Minister & Lay People, Richmond Heights Women’s Club, South Dade Skills Center, Arthur & Polly May Head Start, Solid Rock Church, Agape Faith Center, Reaching U Network, Ethel Beckford Richmond Elementary and the Richmond Heights Resource Center.
Rep. Bullard’s office is collecting new, unwrapped toys for the holidays. They may be dropped off at 10720 Caribbean Blvd., Suite 425, Cutler Bay, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Edmonson hosted two events in her district. On Nov. 20, she hosted her third annual Thanksgiving Festival, in conjunction with Curley’s House of Style, at Charles Hadley Park in Liberty City, attended by about 2,000 residents.
On Nov. 22, she held her annual Turkey Giveaway at the Joseph Caleb Center, also in Liberty City, at which 1,850 turkeys and fixings were distributed to residents. Several companies, agencies and groups supported this event.
Jordan, meanwhile, went door-to-door Nov. 22 distributing turkey baskets to needy families in her district, including those who have experienced financial hardship, are unemployed, the elderly and those who are immobile.
More than 700 turkeys were distributed at the Landmark Auditorium in Miami Gardens. Co-sponsors included The Ted Lucas Foundation, World Waste Services, Falcon Air Trust, Landmark Aviation, Contractors Resource Center and Farm Share.
Photo: COURTESY OF RYAN HOLLOWAY/MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
SHARING: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, center, hands a turkey to a young family with a 2-week-old infant.