With more and more boarded-up houses and empty storefronts in the Muskegon community, its no surprise that every year the line at the annual turkey giveaway gets longer.
“This is our 11th year and every year it gets bigger. We started with three tables and now we have six,” said Paul Allen Billings, General Manger of 103.7 the Beat in Muskegon, who sponsors the giveaway.
“Honestly, we could do this every week and there would be a long line,” said Billings.
Twenty community organizations volunteered their time and resources so dozens of families could have a free turkey, stuffing, and warm clothes this holiday.
Many waited in line for up to four hours to get their meal.
A majority of them are out of work and don’t have a steady paycheck. They are part of Muskegon’s growing unemployment rate which is having at 9.1%.
“I’ve been out of work since the summer, I do seasonal work so we do struggle, we are homeless right now, “explains Muskegon County resident Polly Ahumada, while waiting in line for a turkey for her children.
The mother of two has two young boys at home. They’ve been homeless and living couch to couch for two months.
“I have a friend that lets us crash on his couch and we have people who have offered their garages,” said Ahumada.
She’s thankful for volunteers in the community that are helping her give her little ones a warm meal this holiday.
“It’s important, it’s tradition. My kids need to grow up knowing I will do whatever it takes to make sure they have that for Thanksgiving.”
While their future is uncertain, this holiday they have much to be thankful for.
“Without these resources I honestly don’t know where we would be.”
The giveaway, which was held at Mayes and Wright Media Center, lasted several hours. So many people showed up, volunteers actually ran out of turkeys.
They also handed out free canned goods and personal supplies to needy families.