A line of people began forming as early as 8 a.m. on Monday, for a chance to receive a free Thanksgiving meal outside of Jackson Limousines’ fleet yard in South Los Angeles.
E.J. Jackson, founder and president of Jackson Limousine Service, was initially worried because donations were significantly low, but said corporate and local donations picked up before Tuesday’s giveaway.
“Walk by faith not by sight…I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have any doubts, but I knew God would provide,” said Jackson, who has been giving away turkey dinners for the past 30 years.
Volunteers were lined up along a table bagging fresh produce such as broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers and celery. The plastic bags were then placed into a cardboard box with other Thanksgiving items like a box of cornbread mix and stuffing.
The frozen turkeys were still safely packed away.
“This helps me get in the holiday spirit by helping the less fortunate,” said South L.A. resident, T.J. Falls. “I have two jobs…I don’t mind volunteering because when you’re doing it from the heart you don’t get tired.”
Eve McCraw and Resee Coney were the first in line for Tuesday’s giveaway, arriving at the entrance at 8 a.m.
The two said it has been difficult to find help in South Los Angeles during the holiday season because many places have been cutting back on food donations.
“It’s a blessing,” said Coney.
McCraw said she has been receiving Thanksgiving dinners from Jackson since 2009 and every year, she has seen the crowd grow.
Over the last four years, a growing number of those waiting in line have been from cities outside of South L.A. like San Bernardino and Ontario, according to Fatty Jackson, organizer and nephew of E.J. Jackson.
Fatty continued that he has also seen the line start earlier each year with residents lining up one and even two days before the giveaway.
“It’s been more of a mixed crowd – all nationalities over the last four years. There’s more young mothers, single mothers and senior citizens,” said Fatty.
Jackson’s nephew has been volunteering for the past 17 years and helps ensure the donation process runs smoothly.
He said each year they have been able to speed up the process and prevent any confusion, especially with the help of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s.
While donations have dropped over the last two years, he believes they will still be able to serve about 4,000 people.
He feels the reason the turkey giveaway is able to continue is because of his uncle’s passion for giving back to the community.
“Sometimes people don’t want to give because they don’t know where the money is going to, but with my uncle, you can see where it’s going,” said Jackson.