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Community comes together to support 40 families for Thanksgiving

November 26, 2019

By Kelsey Morrow

Full Service Schools coordinator Vicki Lunsford with Stephanie Araujo of Bridges Community Church


Many families would not have access to an adequate meal for Thanksgiving if not for the generosity of corporations, community members and organizations in Northeast Florida. Their kindness and participation in United Way of Northeast Florida’s Thanksgiving Food Baskets Drive helped spread cheer across the area.

This year, 10 companies, organizations and individuals participated in United Way’s Thanksgiving Food Baskets Drive. Their efforts will allow 40 local Full Service Schools families to enjoy a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal this year. Items in the donated baskets include cans of sweet potatoes, boxes of macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, bread rolls, cranberry sauce, various desserts and even grocery-store gift cards to pay for turkeys.

Full Service Schools, an initiative of United Way of Northeast Florida and several community partners, help families address nonacademic barriers to success by providing counseling services, tutoring, mentoring, access to basic needs such as food and clothing, and many other services and resources. Families accepted into the Thanksgiving Food Baskets Drive are experiencing extraordinary hardships due to job loss, illness or other challenging circumstances.

Community First Credit Union led donations this year with 10 baskets provided. Rounding out the top three, HGS provided six baskets, and JaxCo Furniture provided five baskets.


Six baskets donated by HGS


When JaxCo Furniture heard there were five families left still to adopt, they immediately stepped in to fill the gap to ensure these Full Service Schools families had a happier Thanksgiving. JaxCo Furniture partnered with Bridges Community Church to provide Thanksgiving baskets as well as donated turkeys to families of children who attend Mayport Elementary School in Jacksonville and The Webster School in St. Augustine.

In 2016, JaxCo owner Mike McCann began reading to children in these schools as a way to give back and quickly realized there was a greater need. What began with McCann’s personal giving back is now part of JaxCo Furniture’s mission.

“If every locally owned business did even a little bit,” said McCann, “it’s unfathomable how many families we could serve.”

Are you interested in giving back to local families in need this holiday season? You can still help United Way bring hope, joy and cheer to these families by signing up for United Way’s Adopt-a-Family initiative on our website.

For those who cannot adopt a family but would still like to give back, United Way lists on its website many other community drives you can participate in, which would help ease families’ stress over the holidays. Learn more and register for another holiday gift drive today. Questions? Email volunteer@nulluwnefl.org.