The Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club (BiscayneBayKiwanis.org), one of South Florida’s most active community service organizations, donated complete Thanksgiving Day meals — and more — to 75 inner-city families from five different elementary schools.
The event, just four days before Thanksgiving, took place at Phillis Wheatley Elementary.
“Even though our club has been involved in various Thanksgiving Day projects with other civic organizations, this was the first time in our 66-year history that we have ever undertaken a project of this magnitude,” said Biscayne Bay Kiwanis president Nellie Hernandez. “To see the look on the families’ faces — and in some cases the tears in their eyes —made all the hard work worthwhile.”
Fifteen families each from the five schools — Frederick Douglass, Eneida Hartner, Paul Laurence Dunbar K-8, Morningside K-8 and Wheatley — were selected by the administrators of the respective schools to receive their meals in a “grocery store” type setting. Families walked into the room, were given an empty Publix bag (donated by Publix) and “shopped” around the room with the help of one of the club members.
In addition to a 10- to 12-pound turkey, each family received a box of stuffing mix, 10-pound bag of potatoes, two pounds of carrots, three pounds of onions, cans of corn and green peas, a three-pound bag of rice, a box of corn muffin mix, cans of tuna, a one pound box of spaghetti, can of spaghetti sauce, a bag of rolls — donated by Pinecrest Bakery — a pie, jar of peanut butter, a bag of Harvest Snap snacks containing 16 snacks and a bag of Raman Noodles.
“It was important to give these families more than just the Thanksgiving Day basics,” said Biscayne Bay Kiwanis president-elect Carmen Calzon, who came up with the meal giveaway idea and headed up the efforts to gather donations from local merchants.
“Many of these families were selected because their kids are on the reduced or free lunch program and this was a way of making sure they got good, healthy food over the Thanksgiving break when they wouldn’t be in school.”
The Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club is an all-volunteer organization of professional men and women based in downtown Miami dedicated to improving the lives and brightening the future of disadvantaged children in Overtown, Allapattah and Midtown Miami.
Some of the club’s noteworthy ongoing service projects include: reading with elementary school students; providing a fully paid college scholarship to a deserving high school senior; distributing school uniforms, supplies and backpacks to children in need; providing guided tours of the Everglades and field trips to local attractions, museums and sporting events for children in shelters and public housing; feeding the homeless, and providing three months of free summer swim lessons at Gibson Park.
During the past six years, the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club has awarded nearly $150,000 in scholarships throughout Miami-Dade County.