University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes defensive end leads again — this time at Thanksgiving in Overtown

UM defensive end Demetrius Jackson hands out Thanksgiving turkeys

UM defensive end Demetrius Jackson hands out Thanksgiving turkeys in Overtown for the second year in a row.
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UM defensive end Demetrius Jackson hands out Thanksgiving turkeys in Overtown for the second year in a row.

Demetrius Jackson has come through again for his Overtown neighborhood.

For the second year in a row, the Miami Hurricanes defensive end, joined by several other University of Miami athletes and administrators, organized a Thanksgiving meal drive for less fortunate folks.

Monday’s drive took place at Jackson’s church, the One Way Tabernacle Church of the Living God, as the line of grateful community members was at least 30 people deep by the time the giveaways began at 11 a.m. and snaked down the block soon afterward.

“The work starts at home before you can go anywhere else and help out,’’ Jackson, a fifth-year senior, said. “This community has been so great to me. A lot of great things come out of this community. I don’t think a lot of people see it sometimes. They just see the negative concept. I just want to use my platform to probably try to help them shed a little light on that to let people know that’s not true.”

Fellow football players Michael Jackson, Pat Bethel and Nesta Silvera and former linebacker/rush end Tyriq McCord came to support Jackson and his effort, which was partially funded by a GoFundMe account through his Young Men of Tomorrow foundation. Also helping were athletes from other sports, such as swimming and track and field.

Inside the church, tables were set up with frozen turkeys and canned goods like corn and vegetables and packaged mashed potatoes. Everyone got a turkey and about three packaged goods to go with it. At least 100 turkeys were distributed in Overtown, with another 40 or so distributed elsewhere in Miami-Dade County.

“You have good people, like my pastor — like my brother — doing things like this and they’re doing it regularly every Saturday,’’ Jackson said. “They feed the homeless here, they feed the community. They give things to the community. So, just to be able to come back and give back and build on the backs of the people that have been doing it, like him, like other people’’ [are what makes this so important].”

Last year, Jackson gave out turkeys at some local schools only a few days after he underwent knee surgery. But having the event at his church made it more organized and bigger than ever.

“My pastor, him being able to let me use the church, I think that was the best thing, instead of just running around and dropping this off here, dropping this off there, and being organized,’’ Jackson said.

UM athletic director Blake James and senior associate athletic director for student-athlete development Shirelle Jackson came to the event, and even made a grocery store run to get more turkeys. Later, Demetrius Jackson and the other players made another run of their own.

“What it says about DJ is just, again, the class person and outstanding individual that we have in our program...,’’ James said. “This is his idea. This is something that he took from the start, and obviously it’s getting bigger and bigger. ...All the credit goes to him. This is his project and it’s something that I just wanted to be a part of.’’

Finally, Jackson made his last turkey run for a man whose turkey that had been placed below his seat got taken during the final rush.

Within an hour and a half, the food was gone.

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