View pictures of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line and Publix Super Markets providing Thanksgiving meals for those less fortunate at the 13th Annual Turkey Time with the O-Line
The holiday season is officially upon us and what better way to kick it off than providing 1,000 underserved families in the Tampa Bay area with full Thanksgiving meals, along with Publix gift cards? That's what the big men of the Bucs' offensive line did on Monday night as a parade of cars came through the AdventHealth Training Center parking lots for Turkey Time with the O-line, supported by Publix.
It was the 13th year of seeing guys like Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith and Ryan Jensen, joined by their own family members this year, lugging around turkeys by the bunches and loading them up into each passing car. Every participating family also received a Publix gift card and a grocery bag with all the fixings, including Betty Crocker Au Gratin potatoes and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, donated by General Mills. Plus, of course, a pumpkin pie. Because no Thanksgiving meal is complete without a pie.
To make this possible, the line and its coaches donated $36,500 to help feed families pre-selected by United Way Suncoast through Buccaneers Academies. That amount was then matched by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation Social Justice Fund in the form of a $36,500 grant presented to the non-profit organization Feeding Tampa Bay. The matching donation will be mobilized through school pantries, mobile pantries and with Feeding Tampa Bay's more than 550 agency pantries to help provide meals to community members in need this holiday season.
"To me, the beauty I see in it is that it gets more joyful every year," said right tackle Demar Dotson, who is in his 11th year of participation in the event. "It almost seems like the anticipation is getting better and better. People are starting to look forward to it. When you come out here, it's almost like a parade where you see the excitement in people and in the people helping. It's getting better and better and it can only go up from here."
Turkey Time was started in 2007 and spearheaded by former Buccaneers offensive linemen Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood. Dotson joined the effort two years later and helped transition the event to its current state once both original players departed from the Bucs.
"It's just camaraderie," Dotson said. "One thing about the offensive line, we're a unit. Everything we do, we do together. It's always five guys working as one. When we come out here, it's all of us working as one. It's not one person getting the glory, we're getting the glory together. And it's not that we're trying to get the glory – we're just trying to give back to the community."