LITTLE HAVANA (CBSMiami) — Thousands of people lined up in chilly temperatures to get their free holiday food baskets early Wednesday morning in Little Havana.
It’s for the annual Camacol Holiday Food Drive, sponsored by the Latin Chamber of Commerce and other community businesses.
Around 7 a.m., volunteers started handing out the baskets packed with a holiday meal and all the ‘fixins.’
You could see many of those in line, wrapped in blankets and winter gear before volunteers even started passing out the baskets.
Some waited days to collect the food.
“We’ve been here four days. We’ve been doing a rotation,” said Juanita Alvarez, the first person in line.
Alvarez was also first in line two weeks ago when thousands of people turned out to get a voucher to claim the baskets.
This is Alvarez’s 11th year participating.
“I prepare this meal on Christmas Eve for my family. They appreciate that I do the sacrifice to stay in this line,” she said.
“It’s a party for them,” explained Mercy Saladrigas with the Latin Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m really happy and blessed that we are able to do this for our community,” she said.
Publix is also a partner in the event.
“It’s very humbling,” said Publix District Manager Onay Pedraza. “It gives you a feeling inside nothing can replace. It’s very warm feeling to see everyone get their holiday meal.”
For many, the holiday is the one bright spot in an otherwise challenging year.
“This year with [hurricane] Irma and all the crisis many of us had, they are giving more this year,” Alvarez said. “We can’t wait until we get it.”
The basket comes with enough food to feed 10 to 12 people.
This is the 32nd year for Camacol’s holiday food drive.