Thanksgiving was just going to be another day for Laura Soto and her family. "We don't really have a lot of money this year,” Soto said, “so I thank God they're out here."
Soto and her children waited in line with hundreds of other needy families in downtown Bakersfield to get a free turkey with all the trimmings.
“We got stuffing, mashed potatoes, biscuits and green beans," Soto said.
For the past four years, former NFL linebacker Joey Porter, who retired as a Pittsburgh Steeler in July, has donated hundreds of turkeys for his and his wife’s annual turkey giveaway.
“We try to make sure that we can feed at least 400 families each year so they’ll have a happy Thanksgiving,” said Porter, who has a super bowl ring and played in the NFL for 13 seasons for the Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals. “I see a lot of people come through line that I grew up with, so it's always a blessing when you have an opportunity to give back."
It is the same community he and his wife Christy grew up in as Foothill High School graduates. They make their hometown a priority to help out with for the holidays.
"The numbers have grown over the years, we have a great need here in our community,” said Christy Porter, Porter’s wife. “It’s just to make the load a little bit lighter for those families that just don’t have that extra boost or financial assistance to have a thanksgiving meal.”
The Porters are giving back to those who may otherwise go without this Thanksgiving.
“With the giveaway, it's a blessing to be able to have something to eat on Thanksgiving,” said Roosevelt Gregory, who received a turkey.
Soto said the Porters saved her family’s holiday plans.
“This gave us a thanksgiving because we really weren't going to have it this year,” Soto said. “We really didn't have all the stuff, so when I found out about this, I was like thank God we have this."