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Thanksgiving Meals for Hundreds of Central Florida’s Homeless

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Vincent Williams (left) works for a moving company, but his income dropped dramatically when business slowed a couple of months ago. Photo: Renata Sago, WMFE.

Vincent Williams (left) works for a moving company, but his income dropped dramatically when business slowed a couple of months ago. Photo: Renata Sago, WMFE.

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More than 800 men, women, and children are enjoying turkey with gravy, candied yams, green beans, and biscuits this afternoon with help from volunteers and staff at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. The organization’s annual Thanksgiving banquet is expected to draw some of central Florida’s homeless community and newly migrated residents. Philadelphia native Vincent Williams recently moved back to Orlando from St. Petersburg. Although he works for a moving company, he says business is slow this time of the year. This is his second year attending the Mission’s Thanksgiving event.

“I didn’t know what else to do. I’m not around my family and this is very helpful and everything,” he said.

Staff members began prepping 90 turkeys and more than 600 pounds of green beans and yams. More than 100 volunteers are helping serve food. Justo Nunez works for Lake Mary-based The Limu Company, which has had a partnership for the past 20 years. He calls the Thanksgiving banquet an annual tradition.

“A lot of bad things are happening in the world—many times of the year,” he said. “But here, you can kind of see the good work that the mission is doing, but all these volunteers. And all of the people that are out on the street, they’re not necessarily homeless people as they said, they’re people that are homeless right now.”

The Mission expects some recent arrivals from Puerto Rico to attend its banquet this year. Spokeswoman Ryan Nunez said the shelter has received several calls from new migrants who are looking to be placed. The shelter is known by many as the only shelter in central Florida that receives whole families. But Nunez said the shelter requires families to present a valid marriage certificate.

“We’ve not had a Puerto Rican family migrating from Puerto Rico that has actually met the requirement to be part of the program.”

The Orlando Union Rescue Mission’s annual Thanksgiving banquet will run until 2 p.m.

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About Renata Sago

Renata Sago