MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Patience is paying off for thousands of people who lined the streets in Little Havana for the annual holiday gift basket giveaway sponsored by CAMACOL, the Latin Chamber of Commerce.
While the giveaway didn’t start until 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, the line started hours earlier.READ MORE: Broward School Board May Ease Mask Mandate
Juanita Alvarez is always among the first in line, for 14 years she’s staked out the area for days ahead of the basket distribution. “I can’t wait until Christmas Eve for us you know cook this meal and invite my friends to be there with us with my family,” she said.
It is a holiday tradition in Little Havana that starts with the voucher giveaway, and culminates with the distribution of a bountiful basket of food.
CAMACOL started the tradition of distributing Christmas dinner for just 6 families 34 years ago, It has grown into a basket distribution serving thousands.
They give away 3,000 vouchers, for 15,000 baskets at the CAMACOL Tower, located at 1401 W. Flagler Street, worth about $280 this year.READ MORE: Florida Is Ditching Palm Trees To Fight Climate Crisis
This year, as in previous years, the basket is 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.
“It’s the true meaning of the holiday season and the true meaning of Christmas to give back to the community, we can’t forget about the less fortunate and these people really need the food and we’re happy to provide it to them,” said Patty Arias with CAMACOL.
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and former Florida Governor and 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush were both on hand to help distribute baskets.
“It means a lot, these are people that really want to have a beautiful Christmas like we all do and they don’t have the resources to do it. They wait in line, thanks to the generosity of CAMACOL, Publix, Sedano’s and many others, they have the chance to have a wonderful Christmas meal,” said Bush.
Juanita Alvarez like so many who did wait for hours, even days said they were so grateful for the meal.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Testing Sites In South Florida
“Ya’ll invited VIP to come and eat my cooking!,” she exclaimed.