Dozens of vehicles lined up bright and early Tuesday in hopes of receiving a free turkey from National City's annual distribution, which came with the unique giveaway of COVID-19 safety kits.
Some residents began to line up outside the National City Library parking lot for the distribution at 6:30 a.m., highlighting the need for extra assistance this holiday. Although the event was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., local leaders got a head start and began the process half an hour early since the line of dozens of vehicles created a traffic jam in the area.
More on this year's unique holiday.
Five hundred families were given a frozen bird ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, as well as COVID-19 safety kits that came with masks and other essential PPE. Among the hundreds of families who received the donation, was the Aldana family who walked to the event.
"Today my mom and me are trying to get a turkey for Thanksgiving this coming Thursday," said 9-year-old Jerric Gutierrez.
Jerric Aldana alongside his 10-year-old sister, Carissa, and their mom, Amparo, walked to the event not realizing this was a drive-thru giveaway. Either way, the family had no other option because they only have one car, which Jerric's dad uses for work.
"After we got laid off in March, and, well, we found out in October they terminated us," said Amparo Aldana.
Amparo Aldana was laid off earlier this year from her job at the San Diego International airport. Her family's budget is now extra tight and her main priority is that her children have food and internet access for school.
"We need to pay the rent, bills and I need to have internet for my kids too to do studying for school," she said. "I have internet, I make sure I have it even though I don’t have a job, I'm trying to do my best to pay my bills."
The family was gifted a free turkey along with a bag full of supplies like thermometers, masks, and hand sanitizer.
"I'm so happy, oh thank you, I'm so blessed, thank you," she said as her family received a turkey.
Those who were unable to get a turkey were still given the safety kits since the city had 800 of them to give away.
“Thank God they did it because I know it’s bad with what’s going on with COVID-19,” said Ana Cavres, who received a turkey on Tuesday.
“That’s good, it could help people be with their family,” she continued.
The South Bay city, which was disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, distributed those safety kits in an effort to keep residents safe from the ongoing pandemic.
“We need to work together to have our Abuelitas/Grandmas around for next year,” National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said in a statement. “It is imperative that we stress to our residents, in a positive and proactive manner, with our public safety personnel and non-profit partners that it is ‘OK’ that our 2020 Thanksgiving holiday does not look like Thanksgiving as usual.”
“Our community will be gently reminded of this while receiving safety kits, goodie bags and handouts of what the purple tier guidelines are,” her statement continued.
The first-come, first-serve event distributed frozen turkeys to residents who had an ID with a valid National City address. Those who did not were still given a COVID-19 safety kit.