Reporting Natalia Zea
LITTLE HAVANA (CBSMiami) – Some people were in line for hours or even days, but no matter how long they waited, as long as they had a voucher, they received bags of holiday cheer Wednesday from the Latin American Chamber of Commerce.
Wednesday was the Chambers’ annual holiday food basket giveaway in Little Havana. Just like previous years, hundreds of people camped out outside the CAMACOL building, located at 1401 West Flagler Street, in order to be some of the first to receive the free food.
Zoraida Pacheco said she and her husband were laid off this year and are scraping by doing odd jobs. For the first time ever, she came to wait in line for a holiday meal for her five kids.
“Once you’ve been up there and you have everything for yourself, then comes a point that you’re down here,” Pacheco said, “that you have to depend on other people, so other people can help you. This helps a great deal.”
The Latin Chamber of Commerce and various local businesses gave away $150 dollars worth of food and drinks to every person with a voucher. Three thousand vouchers were handed out several weeks ago.
The meals included pork, yucca, milk, soda, bread, and a gift bag with a number of smaller food items. CAMACOL started this tradition of handing out Christmas dinner for families 27 years ago. It’ll provide families the food they need to prepare a traditional Noche Buena dinner.
Rosemary Garcia waited in line in her wheelchair. She smiled as she received her food basket.
“Thanks for having nice people coming out to help the people that don’t have,” she said.
Governor Rick Scott and his wife Ann, along with former Governor Jeb Bush were on hand Wednesday to help hand out food to residents.
“This is what America, this is what Florida’s about. We take care of each other, we care about each other. We want to make sure everyone is taken care of,” said Scott.
Zoraida said the waiting paid off, “We got everything. We got the Christmas dinner.”
She and many others walked away grateful that their families won’t go without during the holiday season.
CAMACOL promises to hand out another 3000 baskets next year.