More than 100 families in Northwest Jacksonville will have a hot meal for Thanksgiving thanks to volunteers who delivered bags filled with groceries through the Mal Washington Youth Foundation on Wednesday morning.
Veronica Gonzalez’s was one of the food recipients who said these groceries are a much-needed blessing.
“I kind of had a relief on my chest. Like sigh,” Gonzalez said.
That comfort in knowing that her family will have a meal to eat this Thanksgiving.
“It has been tough. I have been trying to get back up on my feet through a new job. And it’s been a little bit tough,” Gonzalez said.
These drop-offs are a more than 20-year tradition.
The food deliveries include a turkey for every one of these families. Plus, eight bags with other food essentials and then a green bag from Harveys Supermarket with some fresh produce in it.
But there is one person who started it all, the one who made all this possible: Mal Washington.
Washington is a former pro tennis player with 4 ATP titles, a Wimbledon Final appearance in 1996 and competed in the Olympics.
Washington started this foundation originally to introduce kids to tennis — now is huge in education.
“We have had people tear up. We have had people say ‘without this we were not going to have a Thanksgiving dinner.’ It was just going to be a regular old dinner, which oftentimes is not very much,” Washington said.
Because of food insecurity and more people struggling to put food on the table, volunteers like Harveys Supermarket District Director Kendrick Hobbs hope this makes a difference.
“We actually take an active role in the community. We serve the community and fighting food and security. That is one of our goals. That is personal to me because you can actually make a difference and you can see the difference you make,” Hobbs said.
This Thanksgiving will be one these families will always remember.
To learn more about the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation visit www.malwashington.com/