Piles of food stretched out across the front lawn of Sanctuary Church. Hundreds of cars stretched around the building and back out onto Federal Hwy. The massive food giveaway on the Saturday before Thanksgiving encapsulates what the holidays should mean: gratitude from those receiving and gratitude from those giving.
Now in its eighth year, some are paying it forward. For others, including Michael Albetta who started the event years ago, it’s paying it back.
"By the grace of God go I. I was once almost homeless myself. It’s nice to be kind and much love.”
The day was truly a community event. Grieco Ford donated use of a truck to haul pallets of food, the Pride Center sent foldable tables, AHF was on hand for HIV/AIDS testing and treatment education. Trader Joe’s sent volunteers and hope to become a partner in next year’s event.
Sanctuary Pastor Dwayne Black said this is one of the most joyous events of the year.
“The god we believe in says we are to take care of the most needy. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing, but that’s what we do.”
Children as young as 6 spent the morning alongside Mayor Dean Trantalis, Police Chief Bill Schultz, and other officials carrying groceries and loading cars.
Broward County Property Appraiser Marty Kiar and his staff volunteered, and his enthusiasm was bubbling over.
“I am so proud of this event. What’s so special about it is that you and I and so many others are going to have Thanksgiving around a table, watching football. But there are thousands in Broward County that go hungry every day. They’re going to have the same happiness that we do.”
Kevin is a mentor at James Club, a sober living program. Many of their clients have been in dire straits and need help. On this day, they came to give back.
“The community has allowed us to be a part of Oakland Park and Fort Lauderdale. We love to give back when we can.”
SunServe’s Tiffany Arieagas is a longtime community activist.
“I’m here representing myself, SunServe, and the trans community. I just love to help. That’s why I’m here. I’ve been doing this for five years and I love the energy.”