Turkey giveaway: Volunteers hand out thousands of Thanksgiving meals in South LA

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Volunteers gave away thousands of Thanksgiving meals to those in need in South Los Angeles Tuesday as part of an annual event started by a local philanthropist.

"It's wonderful, because you know, you might have one thing but you don't have the other, and with this, you have everything," said Ahmesha Robinson, a South L.A. resident.

Robinson, her son and hundreds of others braved chilly overnight temps to line up for the giveaway. They said they actually enjoyed the wait.

"It's almost like church, because we talk about God, we talk about people, we have fun," Robinson said.

Fellow South L.A. resident Jermaine Stewart also stood in line and said it was worth the wait.

"This is like a dream come true sometime for some people. It's a dream come true when you don't have nothing to look for to getting your family something to eat," Stewart said.

Tuesday's event marks the 35th annual giveaway, which was founded by local philanthropist and founder of Jackson Limousine, E.J. Jackson.

"My father was all about people helping people, and that's exactly what we're doing today. When you look around and you see so many people in need, and that was my dad's heart," said Jackson's son, TyRon Jackson.

TyRon is an active part of the annual event, which is now overseen by the Los Angeles Reinvestment Foundation. TyRon, whose father died in 2016, said the event is a great way to honor his father's memory.

"This is what he wanted, and this is what he lived for, so it makes me feel great that we're keeping it on," TyRon said.

Local leaders, celebrities and scores of volunteers joined to help, coming together for a community in need.

"They know they can come here and get that free meal, and have a wonderful, wonderful time every year," said volunteer Qwendolyn Price.

Price and fellow volunteers woke up in the middle of the night to stuff turkeys into bags and organize boxes full of Thanksgiving fixings. Price said the best part is knowing that she's helping families prepare for the holiday.

"That's the most rewarding. When you see a mother standing there with a group of children, and she knows that she's got enough food to be able to take care of her kids on that Thanksgiving. The only thing we're not doing is, we're just not cooking it for them," Price said.

When E.J. Jackson first put on this event back in 1982, he started with just 100 turkeys. This year, volunteers expect to give away more than 12,000 full Thanksgiving meals.
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