The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking for volunteers in the community to donate food toward Thanksgiving baskets for families in need.

On Thanksgiving Day, many of us are focused on how to cook the turkey just right and perfecting the stuffing recipe, sweet potato casserole, green beans and pumpkin pie. But amidst the food and family frenzy, it’s easy to forget the holiday is about giving thanks for our many blessings.

As the holiday season nears, many families in SE Hillsborough County continue to face many economic challenges. To be a blessing to the community, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is providing 100 local families with Thanksgiving baskets full of all the ingredients needed to make an amazing holiday meal.

The reusable laundry baskets will be filled through individual donations and assembled by volunteers. The project, in its 10th year, takes place on Saturday, November 19 at 8:30 a.m. at the church, located at 4806 Bell Shoals Rd. in Valrico.

Coordinator Michelle Caceres loves this yearly mission.

“A shortage of turkeys and the higher food prices associated with inflation means we need our community’s assistance,” said Caceres. “We need families to come help assemble baskets but also deliver them.”

The church works with guidance counselors from local schools in Riverview, Ruskin, Wimauma, Plant City, Lithia, Brandon, Valrico and Gibsonton, who best know which families need the extra help this holiday season.

“For me, the best part of the service project is delivering the basket to families and seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they see the food,” said Caceres. “Jesus Christ set the standard by feeding the hungry, and we are trying to emulate His perfect example.”

The church is asking members of the community to come together and assist with this project to benefit local families. The laundry baskets are filled with turkeys, stuffing, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, cake mix and frosting, butter, pumpkin-pie filling, pie crusts and more.

A sign-up genius has been created. If you are interested in donating food or volunteering for assembling or delivering, visit or contact Caceres at 813-597-8150.

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” — 2 Corinthians 9:11.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.