Thanksgiving came a day early to a select group of needy families this afternoon courtesy of the Miami Dolphins as they opened up their home and distributed 750 meals.
The long line of smiling faces at Doctors Hospital Training Facility on the grounds of Nova Southeastern University spoke volumes about how well received this tradition has become in the community. It was one of three giveaways hosted by the Dolphins, with one held yesterday at Sun Life Stadium and one earlier today at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in Miami. A total of more than 900 meals and 380 individual turkeys will have been provided to feed approximately 9,000 people.
“When I bought the team the important thing was really connecting with the community, participating in the community and enhancing the community and bringing it together,” said Dolphins owner Steve Ross, who was right at the front of the line handing out the meals with his players, coaches, cheerleaders and members of the Miami Dolphins Women’s Organization. “I think you can see today what an event like this does. It’s something that you feel good about being a participant.”
These were families from Miami Dade and Broward Counties chosen by Feeding South Florida to receive the prepared turkeys, dressing and sides from Publix that were purchased by the players, along with drinks courtesy of Pepsi. There were single mothers with young children feeling a sense of relief that they’d be able to enjoy a hearty holiday meal and there were grandparents and elderly citizens visibly touched by the generosity being exhibited on a crisp fall afternoon.
Pro Bowl left tackle
“It’s an event that we always look forward to,” Long said. “We have so many things to be grateful for and thankful for and to be able to give back and donate out money and time to the community is an amazing thing.”
Family is very important to Head Coach Joe Philbin, as he proved by giving the players the holiday off entirely to be with their families. He stressed that earlier in the day during his press conference and was impressed with the meals being given away. He also looked proud of his players and coaches for what they were doing for their neighbors.
“The Dolphins have been intertwined with the community since 1966 and it’s important,” Philbin said. “There’s been a tradition of giving for a long time and we’re proud to keep that tradition alive.”
“It’s a great event and being able to just give a little time back and a bunch of guys donating money to help provide those meals means a lot for families of need,” he said. “Seeing the smiles on their faces just puts thing sin perspective to where we’re in such an opportune position as NFL players to come out and put smiles on people’s faces knowing that they’re going to have meals on the table for their families is really special.”
Year in and out, the people from Feeding South Florida continue to run out of words for what this event means to their organization and to the people that benefit. Brian Phelan, Director of Food Procurement, summed it up best on behalf of everyone involved.
“This is a blessing that we can’t really put into words very well,” Phelan said. “People have empty refrigerators down here and what we’re able to do with this event, these folks look forward to this like Christmas and this is a blessing. They get to meet their favorite team and they get to be fed at the same time. It doesn’t get any better than this.”