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Safe Children Coalition continues Thanksgiving turkey giveaway


Safe Children Coalition volunteers distribute 700 Thanksgiving meals to 700 families in Sarasota on Saturday.

At 10 minutes until 9 the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving, a winding line of cars had already wrapped around the parking lot at Safe Children Coalition. 

Not long after, a flatbed truck loaded with hundreds of boxes packed with complete Thanksgiving dinners pulled into the lot. The volunteers at the organization’s annual Thanksgiving dinner giveaway quickly got to work. 

Black crates stacked about 6 feet high were filled with Publix pies. Boxes with turkeys, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and other sides packed neatly inside sat piled on wood pallets. Small kids hobbled through the parking lot, leaning the boxes on their hips to shift some of the weight. 

The roughly 50 children, teenagers and young adult volunteers made the process run smoothly, from checking off the names of those driving through to packing trunks and back seats with the food. Cars rolled in in a nonstop line for more than an hour of the three-hour event.

Dan Dannheisser works with Safe Children Coalition volunteers as they distribute Thanksgiving meals on Saturday.

Sarasota Lawyer Dan Dannheisser, who has raised money for the giveaway for nearly 20 years, gathered the volunteers in a circle moments after the food arrived. There was work to be done, he said, but he commended the children and young adults for their hard work first. 

Without their volunteer their time, there would be 700 families in the community who may not otherwise have had a Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate the holiday, Dannheisser said to the crowd of volunteers. 

“You’re making the difference,” Dannheisser said.

This event, he said, is all about the volunteers.

“When people get together to do something that’s meaningful, it’s a difference-maker,” he said.


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