Thanksgiving meals being airlifted out

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VENICE, FL - When do you get ready for Thanksgiving on October? When it's being airlifted to countries that don't celebrate the holiday.

Volunteers in Venice packed up the goods which will be flown in by Agape Flights for missionaries in places like Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

"They deserve our support. This is the least we can do." Don Azbell and about a dozen other volunteers from the Palma Sola Presbyterian Church in Bradenton are busy packing. Hundreds of boxes for those serving the poor in the Caribbean islands to our south. "You have a chance to think a little when you are doing this. Those folks down there don't have anything."

From all the trimmings to the turkey. "It's a taste of home for them," says Agape Flights CEO Allen Speer.

Once the boxes are full and taped tight they'll be loaded on the plane. One of the 50 plus trips the not for profit makes out the Venice airport each year. Headed for more than 360 missionary families. They in return will share their meals with the locals. "It's a wonderful opportunity for them to not only have a taste of home but to share what we do around Thanksgiving."

They say what's inside is a message of love. Even the outside shares the sentiment drawn on by local school children. "We receive many notes saying that kept the box because it's a piece of art they cherish."

They say the costs of the goods and shipping come to around $80 per box. From the volunteers and students to the local Sweetbay which gave discounts and the work being done in this small hanger everyday, a community effort. "Contributions come from all 50 states but we have a strong contingency of people here locally from Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Englewood that support this project."

Don says giving to those who are helping, getting back something good too "Any way we can support them is wonderful. It's good to take time from the usual stuff and do this once in a while."

If you want to help there is still an opportunity. Agape says they've only paid for about a third of the supplies needed.