E.J. Jackson, who for 34 years distributed Thanksgiving dinner to mostly underserved families in South Los Angeles, died on Tuesday from a heart attack.
Jackson was founder and owner of Jackson Limousine Service which through years transported some of the world’s most famous celebrities. His death comes just before the E.J. Jackson Foundation was gearing up for its annual Thanksgiving turkey give-away which attracts thousands of persons each year. The Jackson family said on Wednesday morning that the Nov. 22 turkey give-away will proceed on schedule.
“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,” said Jackson’s son, Tyron.
In 1982, several seniors approached Jackson about providing food for Thanksgiving. They could not afford to purchase the traditional meal, therefore Jackson purchased 100 turkeys and distributed them. The next year it was 200 turkeys, then 500 and 33 years later the event has grown to providing 12,000-plus turkeys—with all the trimmings—to needy families in South Los Angeles. At his death, the E.J. Jackson Foundation had moved to distribute boxes of food year-round to the community.
Jackson once said he was challenged at an early age to develop an altruistic spirit.
“Every day, I see people that cannot make enough money to pay their rent or medication or anything,” Jackson said years ago. “And we are all like one paycheck from a disaster. You have to assist in time of need. You have to help the less fortunate.”
Through the years, hundreds of volunteers—including celebrities—have assisted the Foundation in providing Thanksgiving meals. Actress Dawnn Lewis has been volunteering for years.
“At a young age, someone looked me in the face and said, ‘You are special. You are worth it,’” Lewis said. “And if we can do that for anyone else, your life can be completely changed.”
Funeral services for Jackson are pending.