EDINBURG — The city, school district and HEB partnered Monday for the 10th annual Edinburg Cares Food Drive to help families in need this holiday season.

Volunteers carry red HEB bags filled with can goods and turkey’s during Thanksgiving turkeydrive at the Edinburg Parks & RecÕs Center on Monday, Nov.22, 2021 in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

Volunteers and officials met in the morning at the Edinburg Parks & Recreation building to bag turkeys and create food baskets in order to go door-to-door and hand deliver them to selected Edinburg families.

The building’s gym was packed with students and volunteers eagerly awaiting to deliver food to over 800 families who would each receive a turkey and food basket.

To accomplish such a task, the volunteers split up into different teams and were provided 15 turkeys and baskets each, though they only had ten families on each of their routes.

The extra food was given to them because in past years other families in need would ask for food, so now the volunteers had the opportunity to provide food to those other families/

“With those extra five, [we’re] going to give them off to somebody that might be in need,” Edinburg Parks & Recreation Program Coordinator Anthony Davila said. “We’re here to help the community, we’re not here to judge.

“Most important thing, do not bring that turkey back.”

Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina recognized the original founders of the Edinburg Cares Food Drive during the opening ceremony, one of which was ECISD Parental Involvement Coordinator Sandra Rodriguez.

“I’m very excited as a founder and you know, when [Molina] said we started with ten turkeys, I think we actually started with two.” Rodriguez said. “Then we moved up to five, and after that, every year, it just increased and we were able to support more families in the school district and the community.”

Rodriguez also explained how they had to skip last year due to COVID-19 restrictions and decided to offer HEB gift cards for the families in need instead of the traditional hand-delivery service they provided years before.

Once the opening ceremony was over, volunteers and officials quickly got to work packing up food baskets and unloading a refrigerated truck full of turkeys in the rainy 60 degree weather in order to begin the deliveries.

Raymundo Mauricio Villarreal,7, gets excited with the bag of Thanksgiving goods delivered to his home on Monday, Nov.22, 2021 in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

Molina and Rodriguez followed one team to its first stop, a home near San Carlos occupied by 33-year-old Jorge Leonidas Villanueva Funes, who is originally from Honduras and living with his daughter.

Funes, who works in construction, was ecstatic about receiving a bountiful care package of food and though his home lacked a traditional stove with an oven, Funes suggested he might cook the turkey using a disk normally used to make a Mexican dish known as a discada.

At another home, Rodriguez was greeted by 7-year-old Reymundo Mauricio Villarreal, who ran to grab his mother, 23-year-old Fernanda Galvan Serna.

“I feel very happy because we’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving because, as you know, we don’t have very much,” Serna said in Spanish. “We never knew such a day was celebrated.”

As Reymundo played with the cans and packages of food strewn about the kitchen table, Molina gave Serna a $25 gift card to HEB in case she and her family needed anything else to complete their first Thanksgiving dinner.