SARASOTA COUNTY,  Fla. (SNN) — A heartwarming Thanksgiving initiative has doubled its impact for local veterans.

For years, First Church of Sarasota has donated Thanksgiving meals to veterans served by Goodwill Manasota's “American Veterans and Their Families" program. 

“We’ve been seeing so much gratitude. They’re coming in and they're like ‘thank you so much. We didn’t know what we were gonna do this year, we just couldn't afford a turkey and we really wanted to have a traditional Thanksgiving,” said Todd Hughes, Veteran Services Program Manager for Goodwill Manasota.

Hughes said he’s noticed the increasing struggles veterans face with the rising prices.

“The economy, it’s tight. Groceries are very expensive. To buy a turkey this year, it’s gonna cost more,” said Hughes.

Thanks to additional funds from the Gail Baird Foundation, this year’s turkey distribution is even greater than usual.

“We’ve always done 45 turkeys and they wanted to round it up to 100,” said Hughes.

But turkeys aren't all they get.

“They get to pick a turkey, grab a box of food. It’s got all the sides, stuffing and cranberry sauce and all that and also some extras,” said Hughes.

The Baird Foundation is also handing out branded fleece jackets and gift cards to those collecting food.

Goodwill Manasota Veteran Services says they typically see five people per household come in for food.

“Probably close to 500 people we’re feeding,” said Hughes.

The turkey distribution is only for veterans served by Goodwill Manasota's "American Veterans and Their Families" program.

It isn't open to the public, but any veterans looking for jobs, referrals for social services, or networking with other veterans are encouraged to reach out to Goodwill's veterans services program. The program is entirely staffed by veterans.