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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Thanksgiving custom from a Miami Heat legend took place on Tuesday in Overtown.
The gymnasium at the Overtown Youth Center was packed with people picking up their Thanksgiving meals thanks to NBA Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning’s annual “33 Thanksgivings.”
“The holidays is not just about giving and receiving, it’s about thanking God for what we have already,” the former Miami Heat star said.
Earlier in the day, Mourning and volunteers spent the day loading up trucks filled with boxes containing traditional Thanksgiving meals.
The families received a turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, cranberry relish and iced tea.
“This is our 16th annual Thanksgiving giveaway,” he said. “We provide meals to 500 families in the Overtown, Allapatah, Wynwood area.”
Mourning teamed up with Publix and FedEx to make this happen.
Families CBS4’s Oralia Ortega spoke with said without Mourning’s help they would have no Thanksgiving meal.
“Right now, I’m unemployed and we don’t have the resources to buy the whole meal and it’s a blessing,” said Librada Modesto.
Angela Marshall said, “Helps a great deal because, you know, right now I’m not working. I’m taking care of my mom so I can’t get out to go and pick up things. It helps me a great deal.”
The tradition began in 2000 when “33 Thanksgivings” delivered meals to 33 families in need.
In the years since, that number has grown to over 400 meals for needy families.
“I come here every year and I think Alonzo Mourning is doing a very good thing for the neighborhood, for the people of Overtown,” said Howard Clark.
Additionally, this year Mourning will surprise 10 families on Thanksgiving Day.