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TAMPA, Fla. -- A former Tampa Bay Buccaneer was making a difference for hundreds of families in North Tampa on Monday night.

Former NFL linebacker Ryan Nece took photos and helped serve hot meals from Metropolitan Ministries to about 1,200 people at the University Area Community Center.

"The Power of Giving ...Thanks" event was put on by the Ryan Nece Foundation. Sweetbay also donated items so the families would have food and other essentials to take home.

"We collectively have to make a difference," Nece says. "When we collectively put the effort to lend a hand to help others, our world gets better."

Patricia Fields, who brought her three children for the pre-Thanksgiving gathering, hopes this event will set a good example for them.

"It's a good experience for families because the families that do need assistance, it's thoughtful from the people that help us and take the time out," she says. "Hopefully, when my children grow up, they'll be successful and be giving back as well."

Nece hopes the event will also send his fans a message.

"It's not just about a big event like this," he says. "It's about buying somebody in line a cup of coffee. It's about letting someone cut in front of you. It's about talking to your neighbor. It's the smallest act of kindness that can go the longest way."

The Ryan Nece Foundation is also holding a holiday party on December 6, with proceeds going toward helping kids enjoy the holidays.

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