Kissimmee, grocery store donates 150 turkey meals to families in need

One hundred and fifty Osceola County residents are sitting down to a home cooked Thanksgiving meal today thanks to a generous giveaway last week by Sedano’s Supermarkets and the city of Kissimmee.

For more than six years, the Central Florida grocer has partnered with local government to offer turkeys with all the fixings to dozens of low-income families in need.

Kissimmee resident Sunshine Garrett was one of them. Despite her sunny-sounding first name, Garrett and her family have faced countless struggles in recent years. Most of their family lives up north, and since 2009, Garrett has served as part-time caretaker to her disabled husband while battling her own health issues. The couple has two boys to raise on a monthly budget so tight, It can feel hard to breathe.

“You just don’t know how you’re going to do it, where the money is going to come from,” Garrett said on Nov. 15. “It’s very rough. But you just have to keep going.”

When Garrett requested help with her electric bill from the Osceola Council on Aging a few weeks ago, the social worker asked if Garrett would like a voucher for a free Thanksgiving Day meal.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “The holidays are always tough, and you always worry about them. I’m so thankful this is happening.”

Desiree Matthews, deputy city manager, said Kissimmee partners with agencies like the Council on Aging, Community Hope Center and Community Based Care of Florida to identify families like Garrett’s who would otherwise struggle to make a traditional holiday meal.

The 150 recipients not only received a plump frozen turkey from Sedano’s employees, they also went home with large bags of Thanksgiving favorites like stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. As a new feature this year, the bags were placed on small, suitcase-style rolling carts to make them easier to transport. The carts can be re-used during future grocery store trips, making it easier for families who may need to walk or take a bus to get food.

Various local officials were also at the giveaway event Nov. 15, including City Commissioner Jim Fisher.

“It’s important that we work with our community to help those that are less fortunate,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do. Those who have should give to those who don’t have.”

In the moments before Garrett collected her own bag, she said once again how thrilled she was at the generosity of Sedano’s and the city for organizing the event.

When asked what she hoped was inside her bag, she spread her hands and said she was grateful for anything.

“I do like yams though,” she said after a moment. “Oh, and if there’s a pumpkin pie in there, the boys would just love that.”

Credit for this story goes to Rachel Christian, Osceola News-Gazette