SWFL turkey drive gives hundreds a holiday meal

FORT MYERS, Fla.- The line formed at 4 a.m. Sunday morning. Hundreds of families waited for hours, hoping to take home one of the 1,000 turkeys from Pendas Law Firm.

After just one hour, already more than 700 turkeys had been given away.

“They’re grateful, you know, they give me hugs and kisses and ‘God bless you’ and well wishes and it just, it makes me feel great, it makes ’em feel warmth and it’s just something we love to do for them.”

Luke Pendas, of Pendas Law Firm, says the annual event aims at helping Florida families put food on the table this holiday season.

“It turns into an entire week’s worth of turkey giveaways and an entire week’s worth of giving and at the end of the day, what is Thanksgiving all about? You know, giving thanks and giving back, and that’s what we’re here to do.”

A team of more than 20 volunteers formed an assembly line to hand out the turkeys at the Pendas office on Evans Avenue.

“It’s an amazing feeling, there are so many families in need here, in Lee County  and in Southwest Florida.”

Volunteer Janeth Ramirez says she’s grateful to be able to give back to the community, and see the smiles on their faces.

“It’s just in the spirit of giving back and giving thanks and being appreciate for so many for us who have a lot in our lives. So, [it] feels good giving back to the community and to those people who may not be able to buy a turkey for their family. ”

The Pendas Law Firm says this event launched seven years ago, and spent about $10,000 at each location.

The drive moves across the state of Florida. Volunteers have already given out thousands of turkeys in Jacksonville and Fort Myers. They will make stops in Tampa and Orlando in the next two days.

The drive, Pendas says, is meant to give struggling families a happy holiday.

Like Elsie Gaston, who says she just got a job, but still does not have enough money to purchase food for Thanksgiving.

“It’s hard when there is no money and you have a kid and you’re trying to provide for them. I’m really, really, really thankful.”

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