MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Dozens of residents of Little Havana and the surrounding area have already begun to line up for their chance at a little holiday cheer.
Juan Perez was first in line. “From the day I have been here I haven’t missed a day or night. I love this country. I thank God.”READ MORE: 'Hidden Worlds': An immersive voyage into deepest oceans & mesmerizing mangroves through state-of-the-art technology
Within hours he had company. And by tomorrow morning he will joined by 3,000 more.
“Yeah it’s all party all night long. Like the song,” Junior Rios told CBS4.
They are all lined up for a golden ticket of sorts that can be traded in in two weeks for a holiday basket.
On Wednesday the Latin American Chamber of Commerce will hand out vouchers for food baskets in front of the CAMACOL building at 1401 W Flagler Street. The first 3,000 in line will get a ticket. The food baskets, which are valued up to $200 each, will be given out on Dec. 18th.
The baskets are worth the wait Eulalia Gimenez told Sutta. “With my little Coocoo!” “Little Coocoo.” “”Little Coocoo say hi!”
Without the charity she said her Christmas and many others would be bleak.
“There is no money. There is no jobs. They need it.“ she said.
The baskets contain items for a full Christmas dinner, Latin-style. The food is donated by local companies.READ MORE: Haiti's contributions to South Florida in full display at Haitian Heritage Month Art Exhibition
The baskets usually include sausage, rice, biscuits, desert items, canned peaches, salt, juices and milk.
This is the 28th year for the program. It has grown into one of the largest holiday food drives in South Florida.
“It first began with 50 baskets. Even when I began with the chamber about 17 years ago we would give away 2,000. Right now we are giving away 3,000,” said Betty Gradera with Camacol.
Last year, hundreds of people camped out overnight for their chance at a voucher. When it came time to distribute them, several hundred more people were turned away.
“If you leave, you lose your spot. Because you’ll end up in the back,” explained Rios.
Newcomers like Tony McAmis, had no problem sharing his business plan selling cokes and waters.
“Take the money we are making here and go to the beach. Drink beer,” McAmis told Sutta laughing.
And he’ll have more business in about 10 days when this line will form again to pick up the baskets, even though the voucher guarantees them food.MORE NEWS: Gov. Ron DeSantis signs property insurance, condo safety reforms into law
The vouchers will be handed out starting Wednesday 8:00a.m.