By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Thanksgiving is going to be tastier for thousands of Chicago families in need.

Ahead of the holiday, Ombudsman Chicago, which provides alternative learning opportunities to young people who have dropped out of school or just need a fresh start, gave away free food to needy and vulnerable families; including turkeys, all the trimmings, and masks.

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Lines were long, and socially distanced, as volunteers gave away 500 turkeys and food boxes at Legends Chicken and Fish on 79th Street. Mariano’s chipped in with food.

The hosts said this year has been especially hard for many Ombudsman students and their families, who already were facing challenges.

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Thousands more Thanksgiving turkeys were handed out in Auburn Gresham for Chi-giving, organized by Congressman Bobby Rush, with a little help from one of the stars of the show Empire.

“I never left home. I’m born and raised Chicago, South Side, and we do this all the time, and I always say, if you’re not paying your tithes by giving your time, you ain’t doing nothing!” actress and rapper Tarhonda Jones said.

Rush’s office said more than 3,500 families received turkeys and a big box of groceries to make sure their tables are full this Thanksgiving.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff