MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of people braved cold temperatures Tuesday morning while waiting in line early for a chance at a free grocery gift card in Miami.
Police said people started lining up around 9 p.m. on Monday night.
Images from Chopper 4 showed a long line of people with very little social distancing.
People stood in line all bundled up, some with their pets, others with their kids. Waiting. Hoping to be one of the 500 people to get their hands on a Publix gift card.
“My coworker picked me up about 3:15 a.m. and we got here around 3:50 a.m.,” said Mabel Miller.
Miller used her only day off work to wait in line.
The coronavirus pandemic has cut her work hours, making it harder to put food on the table.
“I don’t get food stamps. I live off of my paycheck. So when groceries, bills come first, then I buy groceries. Maybe $60 to $70. That’s not enough groceries for me and my mom,” said Miller.
Hundreds of people lined up around Regatta Park near city hall.
The City of Miami handed out 500 Publix gift cards, each worth $250.
Some people were turned away because they don’t live within Miami city limits.
“Hialeah, down south. If Mayor Suarez is not your mayor you are not supposed to be in this line,” the announcement was made.
The line was cut off at around 9 a.m. and some people who waited hours for help were told to go back home.
“No more line everyone. I’m very sorry but there are no more cards,” the announcement came.
Martha Gutierrez had waited in line since about 7 a.m.
“There are elderly people here, people who are handicapped, people who are in need. They didn’t help us with the rent and now we have to come and wait here for a gift card of $250,” said Gutierrez.
“Those that don’t live in the city, unfortunately, we’re limited to helping those that live in the city. I wish I had more recourses and more ability to help more people but this is what we can do,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
“It’s sad to see how much need there is. How the need is so much more than our ability to give,” added Suarez.
Click here to find out about future card distributions.
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As for the annual CAMACOL holiday food basket giveaway, it’ll be a little different this year.
CAMACOL has teamed up with the Miami Marlins for a drive-thru-only giveaway on December 16th.
Recipients receive a Jabas food basket 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.
“I am delighted to have joined forces with the Miami Marlins, an organization which, now more than ever, is front and center for our community,” Jose L. Chi, President of CAMACOL.