November 10, 2020

Here’s how to help feed families – and pets

By haziqbinarif

Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s a given that Thanksgiving is going to be a little different this year — missing relatives who can’t make the trip to Florida this year; the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven sniffed through the filter of a face mask, and a socially distanced dinner table where hand sanitizer is passed along with the green bean casserole.

While these are minor inconveniences for most people, others in our community face bigger challenges this holiday season as jobs have been lost and health — both mental and physical — has been put at risk because of COVID-19.

Every year, nonprofits organize food drives, collecting essential items — boxed stuffing and instant mashed potatoes, canned vegetables and fruits, and cranberry sauce — for a traditional Thanksgiving meal to distribute to hundreds of families in need.

Add in the challenges of COVID-19 this year and the need is even greater.

Boca Helping Hands, which distributes food bags and hot meals year-round, has expanded its locations and registered more families for food assistance. The Boca Raton-based nonprofit estimates it will need 2,766 turkeys and filled boxes of essential items.

According to Feeding South Florida, which serves Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, the need for food assistance has more than doubled as a result of the pandemic.

“Thanksgiving is one of the hardest times of the year for families who struggle to make ends meet,” Paco Vélez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has produced an economic crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression. One in five adults and one in four children are currently facing food insecurity.”

Here are some ways the community can get involved to help feed families — and even pets — this Thanksgiving:

Feeding South Florida is offering its Adopt-A-Family program. For $25, anyone can provide a Thanksgiving meal box to a family of four. The meal box includes one turkey, fresh produce, traditional sides, gravy mix and dessert mix. “Due to the pandemic, this year, there are food supply chain issues which have caused the cost of protein to rise and ingredients for side dishes to be in short supply,” Velez said. Visit All donations must be placed by Monday, Nov. 23.

Boca Helping Hands needs help to feed 2,766 families who have registered for its Thanksgiving Box Brigade program, which provides turkeys and a box filled with items to prepare a holiday meal. Anyone can donate a box for $27.20 at “We are so grateful to the community each year for their Thanksgiving box donations,” Boca Helping Hands Executive Director Greg Hazle said in a statement. “Their generosity means that people who would not otherwise be able to sit down for a holiday meal can enjoy one with their family.” There will be 1,696 families receiving meals at the main facility in east Boca Raton, 224 families at the West Boca location, 641 families at the Boynton Beach location and 205 at the Lantana location.

The 28th annual Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center Thanksgiving Basket Brigade is pivoting to a delivery system to bring baskets to 1,300 pre-registered families caring for a child with special healthcare needs. About 200 volunteer vehicles are expected to drive through the center’s parking garage in Fort Lauderdale for curbside pickup of holiday meal baskets. Anyone can make a $25 donation to sponsor a meal basket for a family of four. “With so many families in our community in need at this time, we couldn’t imagine the possibility the event might not happen,” Ira Vernon, who is a member of the CDTC Board of Directors and a title sponsor of the event with his wife, Penny, said in a statement. “When the staff announced plans to adjust the volunteer event to meet social distancing guidelines, we were proud to lend our support so the center’s clients could receive a special holiday meal.” To donate or sign up to volunteer, visit

Pet Supermarket’s fourth annual Thanks for Giving pet food drive is underway through Monday, Nov. 30. For $5, customers can donate pre-purchased cans of cat and dog food for animal shelters and rescue organizations that partner with the stores. Pet Supermarket has the goal to give 125,000 cans this year during the “Feed-a-Pet” promotion, which is sponsored by Lovibles and Barker’s Complete. “During these trying times, in particular, our local shelters and the homeless animals need our communities to come together to show their support,” Pet Supermarket director of marketing Aileen Bilyeu said in a statement. Visit


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