Thousands of people waited anxiously in line on Tuesday for the annual South Los Angeles turkey giveaway founded by the late limousine company owner Ellsworth E.J. Jackson.
The turkey giveaway is now overseen by the Los Angeles Reinvestment Foundation, formerly known as the E.J. Jackson Foundation. The giveaway has grown into a major charitable tradition in South Los Angeles, beginning decades ago with just 100 turkeys and now growing to about 12,000.
The event annually attracts a long line of people who wait hours to receive a box filled with not only a turkey, but with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal.
E.J. Jackson was the owner of Jackson Limousine Service, which is well-known as a chauffeur to the stars. He began the turkey giveaway 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.
Jackson died Nov. 1, 2016. The city last year dedicated the corner near his limousine company “E.J. Jackson Square.”
A few miles away, meanwhile, longtime community activist “Sweet” Alice Harris hosted her 33rd annual turkey giveaway through her organization, Parents of Watts. Between 500 and 1,000 turkeys were distributed during that event.