NFL linebacker picks up the tab for Thanksgiving dinner

Peterson_Turkey_2011DSCF5069_copyLocal families were the recipients of turkey dinners thanks to the generosity of former Alachua resident and Atlanta Falcon’s linebacker Michael Peterson.  Peterson’s parents, Porter and Reatha Peterson, helped give out the dinners Tuesday evening in front of Hitchcock’s Market. Front Row L-R: Rocio Osorio, 5; Yhair Moran, 7; Lucas Pascual, 9; Iginisio Miguel, 3; Juanita Pascual, 7; Merzedez Jimenez, Lorenza Pascual, 2; Gonzalez Pascual, 10; Back Row L-R: Porter Peterson, Reatha Peterson.

ALACHUA – For 100 Alachua families, Thanksgiving dinner will be a bit more filling than it might otherwise be, thanks to National Football League player Michael Peterson, an Alachua native.  It was Peterson’s foundation which donated the turkeys to area families identified by local schools as the neediest.

Just in time for the big day, Peterson’s family was on hand to give out Thanksgiving’s main course from 5 p.m. to 6:30 Tuesday evening outside of Hitchcock’s market.

As lucky turkey dinner ticket holders claimed their meals one-by-one, Peterson’s father, Porter Peterson, said the giveaway was a symbol of his son’s appreciation for his hometown, Alachua.

“It’s a blessing for Michael to be able to do this for his community,” said Porter Peterson.  “It’s his way of giving back and thanking his community for all of its support he received here while growing up.”

And by teaming up with Hitchcock’s Market, families receiving the Peterson Thanksgiving dinner giveaway came with a lot more than just a turkey.  With all the necessities for a tasty, wholesome and filling Thanksgiving meal, the dinners included the turkey, rolls, other sides and a pie.

Michael Peterson’s mother, Reatha, was also on hand to help ticket holders collect their meals.

The turkey dinner giveaway has been a tradition carried on for over a decade by Atlanta Falcons linebacker Michael Peterson and his younger brother, Adrian Peterson, a former Chicago Bears running back.

The Peterson brothers both played football at Santa Fe High School.  Michael Peterson, 35, graduated from Santa Fe High School and continued on in his football career at the University of Florida where he starred on the 1996 national championship team.  Michael currently plays for the Atlanta Falcons.  Adrian Peterson, 32, graduated from Georgia Southern University where he starred on the 1999 and 2000 NCAA I-AA national championship teams before being drafted by the NFL in 2002.