FORT MYERS, Fla.- It's an unconventional concept: showing up to a home improvement store to get a Thanksgiving meal, but that's exactly what hundreds of families did in Naples Monday. It's a turkey dinner drive-thru thanks to donations from the community.
In just a week, Saint Matthew's House went from about 300 turkeys to nearly 1,000 birds to giveaway to families who would otherwise go without a proper Thanksgiving meal.
"This is a culmination of many weeks of work and many donations being collected," St. Matthew's House Executive Chef Brian Elwell said. "On Saturday we made 1,000 bags on in 69 minutes with the community."
About 970 families signed up to get a free holiday meal delivered right to their car.
"I don't know what is inside the bag, whatever it is I'm happy, because my kids are going to get turkey," Adliene Cesar said after driving through the line. "It's very important because I have 5 kids to feed and what I make is not enough, so this is very blessed."
The line was supposed to open at 10am, but due to a back-up in the Home Depot parking lot, volunteers started handing out the birds at 9:45 isntead.
"We appreciate St. Matt's giving us this," Donna McCormick said. She and her mother Sarah Jacobs waited in line to sign up for the turkeys last week. They plan to make the meal last. "We don't have any food in our house right now because our food stamps got caught up for a couple weeks."
Sweetbay supermarket provided the refrigerated truck, but it was the community that helped fill it.
Now for those who were not able to pick up a turkey dinner, Saint Matthew's House will also be serving meals on Thanksgiving day.
"God touches people's hearts to come help," Elwell said. "No matter what it looks like, no matter what the economy is, our God is a good God and he supplies all our needs."
Last year, St. Matthew's House dished up more than 550 meals on Thanksgiving Day and it expects to meet or surpass that number this year.