A foundation set up by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer linebacker Ryan Nece served an early Thanksgiving dinner for about 450 families Tuesday evening.
The families, selected by local social services agencies, also took home boxes of food and hygiene products as part of the Power of Giving Thanksgiving Celebration. The Nov. 13 event at the University Area Community Center was sponsored by the Ryan Nece Foundation.
Nece spoke before the dinner to about 175 volunteers from the Junior League of Tampa, University of South Florida, Berkley Prep and other organizations.
"This is something near and dear to our hearts," he said. "It means a lot that you are giving of yourself to help."
Some volunteers worked on a serving line to fill plates with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and vegetables; others carried the plates to the tables and served the 1,200 guests who ate in two sittings at tables draped in orange or brown cloths and adorned with a holiday centerpiece.
Nece, in his pre-event "pep talk," encouraged the volunteers to speak the guests to help them enjoy the dinner with their family.
"You should see past the need to see the person, the family," Nece said.
The Power of Giving is funded through donations from businesses and individuals as well as the foundation's fundraising events.
The next fundraiser, open to the public, is Ryan's Rockin' Holiday Party, from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Aqua at Westin Tampa Bay, 7627 Courtney Campbell Causeway. A $25 donation at the door is requested. For information call (813) 785-9249 or see www.ryannecefoundation.com.