In the most human of economic indicators, hundreds of Miami residents camped out overnight and thousands more joined a line Wednesday morning in Little Havana, hoping to receive a voucher for a free holiday meal.
Some of those camping out arrived Friday night, five days before the Latin American Chamber of Commerce began passing out 3,000 vouchers at 9 a.m. Awarded on a first-come, one-to-a-family basis, each voucher can be exchanged on December 14 for a basket containing everything necessary for a holiday meal.
By 7:30 p.m., police had counted 2,800 people in line. One of them was great-grandmother Juanita Alvarez, who told NBC Miami she had been camping out since Saturday at 1 p.m.
"It was hard, my bones are in pain, but it was worth it," she said. A seven-year veteran of the line, she told WSVN she'll use her basket to feed her family of 20.
"When I look in the bags, it's like two or three bags they give us, I see all the items and I enjoy each one of them," she said. "They're doing a great job for the community and I enjoy it and I'm grateful."
The Latin American Chamber of Commerce started the tradition 25 years ago, providing food for 10 families.
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