Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spirit of Season Drives Groups to Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Spirit of Season Drives Groups to Help

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Hundreds of needy Southside and Mandarin families had a better Thanksgiving this week thanks to area community groups and companies.

More than 300 Thanksgiving food baskets were made up and most were given away by Jacksonville's Xerox Corp. and the Mandarin Food Bank.

The Southside Rotary Club provided for the household needs of 12 immigrant families as well.

The first holiday food giveaway was held Monday at the Mandarin Food Bank, 11730 St. Augustine Road. Twenty-three volunteers handed out packages full of frozen turkey, eggs, butter, milk, pumpkin pies, fresh milk, canned vegetables and other staples from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Last year, they handed out 272 baskets of food, enough to feed almost 2,000 people. This time, despite a worsening economy, co-director Bonnie McNulty said they gave out less.

"We thought we would have 250 families, and it is more like 200. We will use those [extra] baskets for Christmas. They will not go to waste," said McNulty. "Thanksgiving has snuck up on everyone. It seems early, and a lot of people are just getting a clue that this is it and you have to get ready."

Some of the canned food came from 7,500 cans collected by Mandarin Middle School and its National Junior Honor Society during a Fall Canned Food Drive. Area churches and residents donated more, while the Mandarin Business Association donated more than $1,000. A tent donated by Kirby Rentals provided shelter for the needy. It was erected by the Mandarin Rotary Club, which also helped pass out the food baskets.

At 8 a.m. the next day, Xerox employees at their office at 4655 Salisbury Road distributed 100 more food baskets filled with canned vegetables, yams, fruits and stuffing as well as a gift certificate for a turkey or ham good throughout the Jacksonville area and Green Cove Springs. …

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