As Holiday classics played on the speakers of One Buccaneer Place, hundreds of cars lined up for full thanksgiving meals during the Buccaneers' 11th Annual "Turkey Time with the O-Line" event on Monday evening.
From 10-pound turkeys, to cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies; each family picked up all the trimmings to create a delicious spread on Thanksgiving Day. On hand to pass out meals were Buccaneers O-linemen Caleb Benenoch, Demar Dotson, Joe Hawley, Michael Liedtke, Ali Marpet, Justin Murray, Kevin Pamphile, Donovan Smith, Evan Smith, JR Sweezy and Leonard Wester. In partnership with Publix Super Markets and Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, players, Buccaneers cheerleaders, Captain Fear and business staff distributed meals to 1,000 families pre-selected by United Way Suncoast and Buccaneers Academy staff. Through Buccaneers Academy programming, students are provided with resources, enhanced curriculum, and hands-on participation from Buccaneers players and cheerleaders at each of the 24 Title-1 elementary schools in Hillsborough county.
The annual tradition with Buccaneers Offensive Line has now provided meals to over 7,000 families in the Tampa Bay area.
Starting offensive lineman, Demar Dotson, has participated in the event every year since joining the team in 2009 and was inspired to carry on the tradition through his tenure. "It was something that started with my teammates, Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood, and it's something we have continued with their blessing," says Dotson. "It's grown into something so big and its good for the community and good for the O-line and brings our community together. Those guys did a great job starting it and I'm just trying to keep it going."
Thanksgiving Day welcomes the holiday season and is a time of reflection with family and friends. For some families in the Tampa Bay area, it is also met with financial challenges, as individuals scramble to purchase items tied to holiday celebrations and put a hearty meal on the table. This community event commemorates the longstanding tradition started by Bucs Legends Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood with continued outreach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to fight those challenges. To date, over 7,500 underserved families have been fed over the span of the 11 year tradition.
"We're incredibly excited and this is our 11th year being involved with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' "Turkey Time with the O-Line," said Brian West, Media and Community Relations Manager for Publix. "There is always so much need in the communities that we serve, and it becomes more prevalent around the holidays. It's always nice to see organizations like the Buccaneers giving back and getting involved."
"Turkey Time with the O-Line" is another example of the team's far-reaching commitment to making Tampa Bay better today and for generations to come. The team will continue its work this holiday season, spreading holiday cheer and serving the community. To learn more, visit www.buccaneers.com/community.