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Thousands line up for free Thanksgiving meal

November 24, 2009 12:52:58 AM PST
Thousands of people lined up in Hyde Park Tuesday to get free Thanksgiving meals during Jackson Limousine Service's 22nd annual turkey dinner giveaway.Jackson Limousine Service and KJLH radio station got together to bring Thanksgiving cheer to a lot of people. Many began lining up on Monday, but the first family in line said they started waiting on Saturday.

"Oh it's great, it's a blessing, It's a blessing from above. You don't even know how I need this turkey," said Vivian Payner, a Gardena resident.

"There's no work. There's no jobs," said Ronald Potts, a South Los Angeles resident. "There are people getting laid off, people losing their houses, people homeless. And people don't have nowhere to go but right here in line to get this turkey. And thank god that this man is letting them have a turkey today."

E.J. Jackson and his family and volunteers began handing out 10,000 turkeys and all the Thanksgiving trimmings at 8 a.m., and the distribution was expected to continue throughout the late afternoon.

Jackson and his family worked all night to get ready for the giveaway.

"I think it's a thing that I'm compelled to do, you know what I'm saying?" Jackson told ABC7. "I really enjoy helping people. God has blessed me tremendously. This is America, so it's given me the opportunity to help people and I love it."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and basketball star Cheryl Miller were among those who showed up to lend a hand and give out food.

"I think it's one thing to write a check. It's another thing to come down here and write a check and participate, and that's what I wanted to do," said Miller.

The event is a long tradition in South Los Angeles. People have lined up to get free turkeys every year for the past two decades.

"I think it's great. I come out every year and I appreciate it because it's free and I need it," said Delana Sowell, a Los Angeles resident.

Lines are traditionally long at the giveaway, but with the sagging economy and soaring unemployment, the crowd appeared larger this year. However, the atmosphere remained festive and lighthearted, even among folks who waited through the night.

"This is just one big party, Jackson Limousines does it every year and we are here to party, you know, we'll take a turkey, we eat later on but we're here to mainly to party," said Ramona Gibson, a resident of Hyde Park.

In addition to the turkeys, the volunteers boxed up and handed out fresh fruit, vegetables, bottled water, cookies and cereal.


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