MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida tradition returned Wednesday but with a much different look.

The annual CAMACOL holiday gift basket giveaway was held at Marlins Park.

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In years past, hundreds of people would line up for hours to first receive a voucher and then return at a later date to receive the coveted holiday basket filled with food for a bountiful holiday meal.

This year, however, there were no more vouchers and no more standing in line. It was a drive-thru only event.

The event was being held in partnership with the Miami Marlins and the Miami Marlins Foundation.

“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. I would also like to express my personal appreciation to all of our family of sponsors and members. And recognize the laudable efforts of Pedro Mesa, from Sedano’s Supermarkets, Chair of our ‘Jabas Committee’, and to our CAMACOL Board”, Jose L. Chi, President, CAMACOL.

The event lasted until the last of the gift baskets were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Families without vehicles were encouraged to carpool. Make sure to bring proof of address if there are different families in a car and limit two family representatives per car.
> “This year has been challenging for our community, and we continue to stand with our neighbors as we look to end the year contributing to our holiday food security needs,” said Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza, Executive Director of the Miami Marlins Foundation. “We are excited to team with CAMACOL, an organization who shares a commitment to serve our community and host this great event at Marlins Park this year.”

Yessenia joined the long line early Wednesday morning, waiting for a much-need food basket.

“It’s really sad to see all these people like the elderly who need this,” said Yesenia.

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A new study shows the Miami area is the second-worst in the nation for food insecurity.

The long lines here were compounded by those already in line for coronavirus testing.

Roy Ricks showed up more than 8 hours early for the giveaway.

“I have been here since 3:30 a.m. This has been hectic, my wife and I got laid off from work because of the pandemic so this is necessary and I have not been working and I have been struggling a bit,” said Ricks.

Pedro Mesa a supervisor with Sedano’s and a co-chairperson for CAMACOL. He says families would receive baskets with items including pork, rice, beans, juices, and sodas.

“It’s very important to do this every year. COVID has had a big impact on a lot of families who need the help so there was no way we could not do this year. We have been planning this for months,” said Mesa.

“So Sedano’s was also helping out in this giveaway. Everyone is hurting and we need to help them one way or another.”

And in light of the pandemic special precautions are being taken with baskets being placed in the trunk of cars.

“No one gets out of their car. Everyone drives up and we accommodate them and everyone will be safe,” added Mesa.

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More than 40 Miami police officers were present to handle traffic as the testing site at Marlins Park was open until noon which is when this giveaway started.

Peter D'Oench