Thousands of Prince George’s Country residents lined up outside FedEx Field Tuesday to see the Washington Redskins in action -- but not on the field.
Since 2003 the Harvest Feast has provided a Thanksgiving meal for families in need. Tuesday, Redskins players like Albert Haynesworth and London Fletcher handed out turkeys with all the fixings, cereal, and bags overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables.
“It means a whole lot to me,” said Carolyn Peoples, of Riverdale, Md. “I’m not working. I’m disabled and everything, so I’m not able to buy, and my husband died two years ago. So I’m not able to provide for myself and my foster kids that I have.”
“It’s important to me,” said Redskins Linebacker London Fletcher. “I’m here today because other people have helped me to get to the point where I’m at, and it’s important to me to give back to others.”
Many of the 3,500 families who were pre-screened to attend the event depend on the food giveaway every year. But because of the tough economy, there’s been an influx of new families who say they never thought they would be in line.
Andrea Lavallis used to work as a medical secretary at Children’s Hospital. But since being laid off in May 2008, her temp jobs aren’t providing enough food for her four kids. So for the first time, she went to FedEx Field asking for help.
“It’s sad that my kids say that they’re hungry and I don’t have anything to feed them,” Lavallis said. “So I’m happy and I’ll be proud that on Thursday I will have a four-course meal for them.”
It’s a growing need many organizations are now facing. On Nebraska and Nevada avenues in northwest D.C., neighbors and friends organize an annual turkey drive. After spending $60,000 on 4,100 turkeys, the charities they help still need more.
“Everyone I called, they asked for more,” said organizer Bobby Abbo. “They said their demand is up, the need is up, and we do the best we can to help them out.”
While ultimately many at FedEx Field would rather have a job, this time of year, having a fresh hot meal helps.
“Thank You Redskins,” LaVallis said.