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Holiday Food Giveaway Draws Hundreds To Little Havana

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Hundreds wait in line at the Latin Chamber of Commerce in Little Havana to get a ticket for the annual holiday food giveaway. (CBS4)

Hundreds wait in line at the Latin Chamber of Commerce in Little Havana to get a ticket for the annual holiday food giveaway. (CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Just north of Flager Street in Little Havana you’ll see them.  Dozens of people sitting in lawn chairs wrapping around 14th avenue.  They’ve been here since November 28th.

“It’ll be 8 days,” Juanita Alvarez proudly announced.

She and the rest of the people in line have one woman to blame for starting all this.

“I’ve been sleeping here. I’ve been brushing my teeth here with a little bit of water. I’ve been washing myself, “ said Maritza Garcia.

She said it like a badge of honor as she does all this curbside.  She sat down on this corner around 7 am last Wednesday.

“And it just started building.  Next thing I knew a few hours later instead of two you had six people.  And now the line is all the way to the end wrapping around the block,” Beatrice Gardera with the Latin Chamber of Commerce told CBS4’s David Sutta.

What are they waiting for?  A ticket for a food basket.

“They give at least 150 to 200 dollars worth of food for Christmas eve and we enjoy that.  I mean hey there is a lot of suffering going on.  And my family really appreciates what they are doing,” Alvarez explained.

Luis Cuervo took us on a tour of some of what they have stockpiled to hand out this year.

“It’s awesome,” Cuervo said.

They started this tradition of handing out Christmas dinner for families 27 years ago.

“I think they gave away like 4 or 5 bags the very first time around and this thing has grown to the tune that we’ve been passing out 3,000 bags per year,” Cuervo said.

In years past thousands have lined up for the bags.  This is the first time though they lined up a week ahead for just a ticket for a bag

“I’m making a line because of the crisis.  Everything is just too expensive,” said Cuervo.

Which is exactly why the chamber is excited to step up every year with the giveaway.

“When you see these really needy people that really, really need these goods that we provide, I think it’s something that we cherish,” Cuervo said.

The chamber expects everyone in line, whether you arrive Wednesday or eight days ago, to get a ticket.

And to the people who say folks are crazy for doing this?

“Well in the end they join us also,” Juanita Alvarez responded. “If they find a doctor for me I have to find a doctor for them because we all mentally disturbed.”

The tickets will start being handed out at 8 am Wednesday.  The food baskets though won’t go out for another two weeks.  If you have a ticket you are guaranteed the food.  Still they expect people to line up days ahead of time.

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