OPA-LOCKA — Mayor Myra Taylor and Opa-locka commissioners kicked of the city’s Thanksgiving celebration a few days early with two food giveaways for residents.

City leaders sponsored their annual Thanksgiving initiatives to provide fellowship and food to hundreds of residents for the holiday. The gatherings were hosted by Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes, and Commissioners Joseph L. Kelley and Luis B. Santiago, in conjunction with the city’s Faith Based Initiative.

At the first event, on Nov. 22, Kelley and Santiago kicked-off the first initiative which consisted of a diverse congregation of local churches in the city. Both welcomed attendees, and Kelley also led the audience in song. Among the guest speakers were Pastor L. B. Roundtree, of New Mount Pleasant, Pastor Noel Miniel, Inglesia de Dios Pentecostal and Pastor Samuel Pratt from New Missionary Baptist church. Pastor Cristino Pinales Ministerio Renuevo followed with an inspirational song and closing the program with a prayer, was Pastor Jorge Rodriguez of Guerreros de Jesucristo. After the praise and worship, the Commissioners distributed food bags, with nonperishable goods, to all attendees.

On Nov. 24, residents filed in a line that stretched for blocks for the annual turkey distribution. Though the giveaway started at noon, people gathered as early as 5 a.m. Holmes gave out the turkeys, while members of the Reed family provided Georgia collard greens. Family members live in Opa-locka, Miami Gardens and Niceville Fla. City officials say that each year, they pool physical and financial resources to rent a truck, purchase gasoline and collard greens, then assemble in the City of Opa-locka to distribute the vegetables during the Turkey giveaway event.

Annie Strozier noticed signs about the turkey giveaway posted throughout the city. She said she made plans to arise at 4 a.m. to take her place in front of the line. She said she needs the extra help, because she cooks Thanksgiving dinner each year, for her entire family and anybody else that wants a hot meal.

Commissioner Kelley commented on the diversity of the worshippers within ONE community, “We are united in the Spirit to accomplish the collective goal of conducting worship and fellowship along with feeding God’s people spiritually and naturally!”