E.J. Jackson Turkey Dinner Giveaway returns despite death of founder

The 34th annual E.J. Jackson Foundation Turkey Dinner Giveaway will provide holiday meals Tuesday to thousands of needy families in South Los Angeles, despite the recent death of the event's founder.

Members of Ellsworth Jackson's family are moving forward the event, which annually attracts a line of needy families that winds through the streets surrounding the Jackson Limousine Service, despite his Nov. 1 death from an apparent heart attack.

Organizers said more than 10,000 families will receive meals this year. "His legacy will live on, and on behalf of our family, I want to say thank you so much for showing your love and sharing my father's love,"
Jackson's son, Tyron, said through tears the day after his father's death.

Jackson was the owner of Jackson Limousine Service, which has become well-known as the chauffeur to the stars. But Jackson became even better known for his annual turkey giveaway, which attracts celebrities who volunteer their time to help package and hand out food boxes to the thousands of needy residents who would sometimes wait in line for days.

Among those expected to work at the event this year are Lou Gossett Jr., Edward James Olmos, Tone Loc, Dawnn Lewis, KiKi Shepard and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles.

According to the company, the giveaway began in 1982 when some area senior citizens who couldn't afford Thanksgiving holiday meals approached Jackson, who responded by buying 100 turkeys and creating the E.J. Jackson Foundation. The next year he bought 200, and the next he bought 500.

The giveaway grew into an annual community event. Last year, more than 12,000 turkeys were handed out, along with other Thanksgiving meal fixings.

Mayor Eric Garcetti called Jackson an "inspiration" and a "role model."

"The holidays in L.A. won't be the same without E.J. on the streets at sunrise, making sure everyone's basket is full," Garcetti said. "He set a timeless example for us to follow, and we can honor his legacy by building on
the tradition he started and committing ourselves every day to making a difference in the lives of our families, friends and neighbors."

The Jackson event is just one of several giveaways being held today and this week. At 9 a.m., the Inner-City Games and Hollenbeck Police Business Council will hold their 35th annual turkey basket giveaway, with turkeys
donated by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the executive commission of Inner-City Games. The event will be held at the youth center, 2015 E. First St.

At 6 p.m., the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission will hold its 17th annual Thanksgiving dinner, serving holiday meals to more than 500 homeless people in the Van Nuys area. The event will be at La Iglesia En El Camino,
14800 Sherman Way.

At 9 a.m., Sen. Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, will host the 35th Senate District's 12th Annual Healthy Family Update and Turkey Giveaway at the Urban Youth Academy, 901 E. Artesia Blvd. in Compton. Also at 9 a.m., longtime local activist "Sweet" Alice Harris will hold an annual giveaway, passing out about 900 turkeys at 10828 Lou-Dillon Ave. in Watts.

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