With hundreds gathered outside of Juan Pablo Durate Park in Allapattah before the sun came up, residents in the city of Miami waited for the next round of gift cards to be distributed ahead of the Christmas holiday.
More than 200 people waited since Monday evening for the event that didn't start until 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Miami Police did everything to maintain order and social distancing, allowing those forced to leave due to the city's curfew to return for their spot at getting a card valued between $100 and $350.
"It's extremely tragic to see the lines of people in tremendous need in our community," said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. "We ask Miami-Dade County to continue to give us more resources in the cities."
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Miami city officials intended to give out 500 cards at the event, the third of five in the month of December, but an additional 250 came in Monday and were handed out as well.
"We created two lines for those people that got here early and pre-applied," said city commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
While many residents were upset with those who tried skipping their place in line or didn't practice social distancing, volunteers and workers tried to ease the situation and wait time by providing food and water.
"I'm really thankful for them," said one resident who waited for the event. "I only get $60 worth of food stamps. I'm buying a lot of groceries in my house."
The city approved a $2 million dollar budget to extend its gift card program aimed to help residents who have experienced financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Suarez said in a news briefing last Friday that the city will be able to provide $334,000 worth of gift cards from various companies, including Winn-Dixie, Sedanos, Presidente Supermarkets and more, in addition to the Publix gift cards that are already being distributed.
The mayor’s office will be giving out the gift cards over the next two distribution events from 8 a.m. to noon:
- Dec. 22 - Jose Marti Park at 351 SW 4th Ave, Miami, FL 33130
- Dec. 29 - West End Park at 6030 SW 2nd St, Miami, FL 33144
Cards are limited to one per household and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Residents must register for a card by clicking on this link.