MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of families are giving thanks early after a food giveaway was held in downtown Memphis on Wednesday.

The giveaway was hosted by St. Patrick Catholic Church, the Rotary Club and the Mid-South Food Bank. The mobile food pantry happens once a month, but this month it was held early so families could be ready for Thanksgiving.

A long line stretched through downtown as people waited to pick up free groceries. Organizers said they saw a much bigger turnout than usual.

“We normally feed 400-500 families every month but today it’s doubled pretty much,” said Father Dexter Noblefranca with St. Patrick Catholic Church.

People were eager to pick up the makings for a meal with some of them waiting overnight. 

“11 o’clock, midnight, 1 o’clock so they slept in the car just to get in the line,” Noblefranca said.

Barbara Booze got in line at 6:15 a.m. for the giveaway that started at 7:30 a.m. She was all smiles as she told us she prides herself on spreading positivity. She also showed us what she received.

“I have watermelons, carrots, cream cheese and lots of bananas for banana pudding and I also got cereal too,” she said.

Booze said food giveaways like this are crucial. 

“They are very important. They help me feed my family,” she said. “It means that there is a great need for food in this community and the groceries are so high.” 

“When you go to the grocery store you can barely afford what you really need. You just get what you can.”

Noblefranca said it’s important people see the good and the generosity of the city. 

“There is hope. There’s some good things happening here in Memphis, not just crime, not just shootings, no. That’s what we’re trying to do, to tell the world, not just Memphis, not just the U.S., there are some good things happening in downtown Memphis and we’re helping each other, we’re helping our neighbors, especially those who are in need,” he said.

The church is always looking for more donations and volunteers for its next giveaway. If you’re interested in helping out, go to the St. Patrick Catholic Church’s website for more information.

You can also visit the Mid-South Food Bank’s website for information about upcoming food giveaways along with how to donate and volunteer.