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Latin Chamber Hands Out Bags Of Holiday Cheer

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Camacol food giveaway in Little Havana on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (Source: CBS4)

Camacol food giveaway in Little Havana on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (Source: CBS4)

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LITTLE HAVANA (CBSMiami) – Christmas came early Wednesday morning for thousands of people who received free bags of holiday cheer 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.

“We did it, we’re here to get the baskets,” exclaimed Juanita Alvarez.

After two cold nights of camping out in line, Juanita got what she needed.

“Look here, we got the seasonings. Look here, this is sweet. I love this,” said Juanita who has been going to food basket giveaway for the past nine years. For her, it means a lot. “It’s very important. This year, on November 1st, they cut back on the food stamps.”

CAMACOL handed out 3,000 vouchers several weeks ago and those with vouchers exchanged them for bags of food worth up to $250.

The meals include pork, yucca, milk, soda,  bread, and a gift bag with a number of smaller food items.

CAMACOL started the tradition of handing out Christmas dinner for families 29 years ago. It’ll provide families the food they need to prepare a traditional Noche Buena dinner.

Governor Rick Scott and his wife Ann were also on hand to help hand out food to residents and spread some holiday cheer.

“I love talking to people. I grew up living in public housing. I know what it’s like to have people help us around my family for Christmas. My family never had a job at Christmas my entire childhood. I know what it’s like,” said Gov. Scott.

Despite the need and the wait, the spirit of the holidays was in the air from all of those who gave to those who received.

Julio Mendez said it was all worth it.

“It was really worth it because first of all I have no food and this is 200 dollars of food so now I’m going to have food.”

The bags of food given to each person can feed a family of ten.

Once all of the food is given out to the 3,000 people with vouchers, any food that’s left over will be donated to the church.

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