Lake, Sumter counties distribute food to families in need at 2nd annual ThanksGiveAway

Organizations gave away thousands of pounds of food Wednesday

LEESBURG, Fla. – Volunteers came together on Wednesday to distribute thousands of pounds of food to families in need before Thanksgiving.

The second annual ThanksGiveAway was organized by United Way of Lake and Sumter counties, which partnered with Lake Sumter State College, Lake Cares and Second Harvest of Central Florida.

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Hundreds of cars lined up hours before the drive-thru event in Leesburg.

“There is still a lack of people having jobs and having regular income for a plethora of reasons,” United Way of Lake and Sumter CEO Monica Wofford said. “Pandemic or no pandemic, there is still a significant need in Lake and Sumter County.”

The event came as the organizations have had to overcome supply chain issues to give away more than 10,500 pounds of food.

“In prior years, however, it has been 15,000. In prior events, it has been 25,000,” Wofford said. “Anything that comes is a blessing, so we take it all.”

While there may have been substitutions for some items, families still received a mixture of groceries, meats and fresh produce.

“What we’re used to getting, we’re not getting, but we’re also getting new items that we didn’t get before. So we’re really just trying to make sure we can fill those gaps,” Lake Cares Executive Director Kelsey Gonzalez said.

Donna James was one of the first to line up for the giveaway and said the food means a lot for her family facing struggles as the holidays are approaching.

“It kind of helps out with our family budget and everything and we really appreciate Lake County for helping support us,” James said.

The event ran until all the food was distributed, but families who are still in need can receive help through the United Way and Lake Cares.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.