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Local food donations increase before Thanksgiving

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Needy families may now enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner at the St. Francis House, thanks to generosity of members of the community.

Until last week, the homeless shelter and soup kitchen was worried it would not be able to meet its Thanksgiving food goal. Lee Smith, director of operations, said the community reacted to the center’s requests on TV and radio for donations.

“We have a lot more than we did last week,” he said. “We were getting a little worried last week.”

The center normally serves around 200 people. It expects more than double that number for Thanksgiving — around 400 to 500, Smith said.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office employees helped by donating to the Southwest Advocacy Group Family Resource Center’s food drive.

Donations were down to 500 pounds total compared to last year’s 1,000-pound total, though.

Lt. Todd Kelly, with the Alachua County Sheriff’s office, said donations were probably limited by the weak economy.

“Things are tighter this year for everybody, and that includes employees of the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “With belts tightening in our economy, people are a little less likely to have the resources to be able to give outside of taking care of their own first.”

The Sheriff’s Office will hand out its food donations at the resource center Monday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Kelly Price wrote this story online.

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