A Southern California business owner known for giving away thousands of Thanksgiving meals to those in need has died just weeks before this year’s annual event.
E.J. Jackson, the force behind the “Jackson Limousine Thanksgiving Giveaway” in South Los Angeles, died of a heart attack Tuesday, family members told KTLA.
The E.J. Jackson Foundation giveaway often fed more than 10,000 people in a single year by giving away boxes of meals containing a turkey, stuffing, vegetables and other trimmings.
The foundation has held the event for more than 30 years, and people were often seen lining up for blocks to receive their Thanksgiving feast.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement on Jackson's death.
"E.J. Jackson’s kind and generous spirit was an inspiration," the statement read, in part. "The holidays in L.A. won’t be the same without E.J. on the streets at sunrise, making sure everyone’s basket is full. He set a timeless example for us to follow, and we can honor his legacy by building on the tradition he started and committing ourselves every day to making a difference in the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors."
At a news conference Wednesday at the Jackson Limousine lot on Slauson Avenue in Hyde Park, longtime Rep. Maxine Waters also praised Jackson's service to the community, saying she loved him and will miss him.
Jackson's son Tyron spoke tearfully about his father's life.
"He taught me forgiveness. He taught me love wins," Tyron Jackson said.
There was no word on when his memorial service would be held.
The turkey giveaway will continue, a spokeswoman for Jackson's foundation said.
KTLA's Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.