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Former Buccaneers star expands tradition of giving Thanksgiving meals to first responders

He started with just 13 deliveries in 2008. Now the Mike Alstott Family Foundation has given out more than 500 turkey dinners to first responders.

SEMINOLE, Fla. — Mike Alstott is at it again. His annual turkey tradition of handing out Thanksgiving meals to local first responders was not going to be stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, it grew.

“People have been grateful every year but this year is a little different,” said Alstott, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback.

Alstott spent Thanksgiving week delivering meals in two counties. On Monday, he and volunteers took Thanksgiving dinners to the crews working at 32 fire stations in Pinellas County. On Tuesday, he delivered meals to all 46 Hillsborough County fire rescue departments.

“Thirteen years ago, it was a much smaller route. A lot less stations that we had and we’ve just grown it,” Alstott said.

Since beginning delivering Thanksgiving meals with just 13 stations in 2008, Alstott has seen the outreach grow immensely. The 2020 deliveries helped him surpass 525 total meals given out. That giving legacy means a lot to the former Bucs star and 11-year NFL veteran.

“I’ve gotten to meet so many great guys who, again, do what they do on a daily basis for us,” he said.

The meals have become his way to thank the local heroes who will be on duty on Thanksgiving Day. 

“They are really appreciative and thankful,” Alstott said. “We are getting bigger each and every year. We enjoy doing it.”

Alstott managed to squeeze in meal drop-offs between his busy schedule running his Mike Alstott Family Foundation and duties as a high school football coach. His Northside Christian School team is preparing for a third-round playoff game this weekend.

His foundation teamed up with supporters Publix Super Markets, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and the employees of Reed / TMS Logistics to make the meals happen. Each meal included a pumpkin cheesecake donated by Bassano Cheesecakes.

Additionally, this year, the foundation also provided Thanksgiving meals to 50 families selected by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

The Mike Alstott Family Foundation was formed to allow the Alstotts to assist others in uplifting the minds, hearts and spirits of families and children on their way to realizing their full potential through various events, assistance programs, and celebrations. He was awarded the Lightning Foundation Community Hero award in August.

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