By Amber Diaz

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LITTLE HAVANA (CBSMiami) – Patience is paying off Wednesday for folks who waited in line for the annual Latin American Chamber of Commerce holiday food basket giveaway.

The line started to form on Tuesday for this pre-holiday tradition in Little Havana. But the line isn’t for the food, but simply the voucher that will be turned in later for the food.

Some people slept overnight to hold their place in line. Juanita Alvarez, who has been participating for the past 12 years said, “I’m grateful for the organization. They always come out with 150 to 200 dollars. When I see this basket on December the 12th I am going to go crazy.”

Alvarez’ friend added, “It’s cold but we’re grateful to be out here because it really helps a lot of families.”

CAMACOL, started the tradition of handing out Christmas dinner for families 33 years ago.

It started distributed approximately 3,000 vouchers Wednesday, starting at 8:00 a.m. Vouchers were given out on a first-come, first-serve basis at the CAMACOL Tower located at 1401 W. Flagler Street.

Those with vouchers will then claim their holiday basket on Wednesday, December 12 from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“We are very grateful to the sponsors who have helped make this possible, to the volunteers that have donated their time and to the community that has helped keep this tradition alive,” said Mercy Saladrigas, president of CAMACOL.

This year, as in previous years, the basket will be filled with a complete “Latin-styled” Holiday dinner including rice, beans, yucca, bread, soda, a pork shoulder, spices, sugar, milk, and other essential items. There’s enough food for about 10 people to enjoy a traditional “Noche Buena” meal.

In addition to providing for those who are experiencing hardships this holiday season, the food drive also serves to unify the community as basket items come from donations provided by different sponsors.

Amber Diaz

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