Miami residents camp out for grocery gift cards days before Christmas

MIAMI – The line wrapped around several blocks and some people even camped out to make sure they would have a chance to pick up one of the $250 Publix gift cards the City of Miami is distributing for residents in need.

The giveaway is funded by money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“I came out here about 11 [last] night,” resident Juan Ponce said.

Five hundred gift cars were distributed Tuesday morning at Jose Marti Park. Other spots in Miami like Little Haiti Soccer Park and Roberto Clemente Park were also doing gift card distributions Tuesday.

“On one hand you’re happy that you’re able to do something to help to give people joy. On the other hand it’s just crushing to know some have been waiting since 4 this morning, some of which we are going to have to turn away, unfortunately,” Mayor Francis Suarez said.

Proof of residency and an application are needed to get one of the gift cards.

They are much needed for residents like Deany Colon, an Uber driver who has an at-risk son at home, so she hasn’t been working as a precaution.

“It’s really nice. Because of the pandemic, a lot of people don’t have jobs, and we are here because we need it,” she said. “There’s a lot of people here who don’t have nothing.”

Suarez said the city got $8.5 million to do provide relief through these gift cards and small business grants, but that Miami really should have gotten closer to $80 million. He hopes Congress will pass further relief to help people in cities like Miami.

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