At Jupiter’s Edna Runner Center, 450 families get a Thanksgiving treat

5:58 p.m Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 Local
Volunteers pass out food donations and gift certificates to families in need and area seniors at the Edna Runner Tutorial Center Monday, November 20, 2017 in Jupiter. Center officials estimated that about 400 to 500 meals would be handed out. “I do it because of the families in need and I feel the heartbeat of the community,” Runner said. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Free Thanksgiving dinner baskets — complete with turkey, vegetables, bread, potatoes and pie — were distributed to about 450 families Monday afternoon at the Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center in the Limestone Creek neighborhood near Jupiter.

Vehicles started lining up at about 4 p.m. at the center on Church Street where 107 students between kindergarten and eighth grade attend after-school programs. Two trucks were set up as staff members and volunteers handed out the holiday goods and kept the lines moving.

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“There are alot of caring people here. It’s so wonderful they are helping people. I am so appreciative,” said Jupiter resident Michelle Bias, who had just been given a basket. Bias said she will share the basket with her mother and three children, Terriona, 8, Terranique, 10 and Terrione, 11.

Monday was the 17th year in a row the 501(C) 3 not-for-profit center handed out the Thanksgiving baskets to needy local families.

“Every year it seems to get bigger,” said Executive Director Edna Runner, a South Carolina native known for her years of volunteer work in the Limestone Creek community.

Opened in 1985 as the West Jupiter Tutorial Center, the center underwent a $600,000 expansion in 2011 and was renamed Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center.

Dinners, donations and gifts cards handed out Monday came from local businesses and organizations such Jonathans Landing, Jupiter Rotary Club, Jupiter Light Lodge, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Tire Kingdom, Merciful Heavens Inc. and local chiropractor Denise Carlstrom.

Students collected and donated canned goods at Limestone Creek Elementary, where Runner was once a teacher.

READ: Edna Runner Center gets new building

“Some people get hit hard. They lose their jobs. They have tough times. We’re here to help them,” said Runner as she waved forward another vehicle in line to get their basket.