A Longview law firm’s first foray into giving away Thanksgiving turkeys led to a turnout that far exceeded expectations.

“We are shocked at the turnout,” Brent Goudarzi of Goudarzi & Young said Friday morning just before the giveaway began.

Residents began parking at the firm’s new law office on Fourth Street in Longview as early as 5 a.m., and about 20 minutes after a crew began handing out the turkeys at 10 a.m., the line of vehicles stretched down to Hawkins Parkway, around to Eastman Road and almost up to Peters Chevrolet.

Goudarzi said the firm had planned to give away 750 smoked turkeys from Bear Creek Smokehouse. After seeing how many people were lined up to receive them, they called Bear Creek and asked for everything they had, which included 250 hams and 1,000 smoked chickens, he said.

“The coronavirus has devastated this community,” Goudarzi said, “and we’re just glad to be able to give back.”

Free food distributions have erupted in Longview during the pandemic, and the numbers of people served show a compelling need for the service as residents have dealt with job losses and a downturn in the economy.

In late April, the East Texas Food Bank had its first food distribution in Longview at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Complex, where more than 1,500 area households were served. The food bank has since scheduled regular produce distributions in the city.

Goudarzi said he is looking forward to being able to do the law firm’s turkey giveaway annually.

Annie Porter was one of those who arrived at the law office early — 5 a.m. early.

Porter said her friend told her about the possibility of getting a free turkey, and she didn’t want to miss it. She said after she parked her car, she put the seat back and took a nap.

“I had to do what I had to do,” she said.

She said the free turkey would mean a lot to her and that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has had to make difficult decisions about which bills to pay.

“I lost about 30 pounds since the first of the year, and it’s not from a diet,” she said. “It means a lot.”

Rose Glaspie said she was glad she and her daughter got to the law office at about 7 a.m. — before the line started.

Glaspie said she is thankful that she is still able to work, because as an employee at a group home she is considered essential, but she also was grateful the law office made the free turkeys available.

“You have to keep praying and keep trusting God,” she said. “It’s gonna be Him who gets us through this.”

Though this is the first year for Goudarzi & Young to give away turkeys, its first day was Thursday when it gave out birds at the Gilmer Justice Center.

With the number of people involved in either coordinating the effort, handing out the meat or receiving the turkeys, it reminded at least one law office employee of a hallmark Gilmer event.

“We didn’t get a Yamboree this year, so this is our Yamboree,” said Ronda Adkinson, who has been with Goudarzi & Young for 21 years.

Follow Scott on Twitter @sabrunner.

Digital editor

I'm a native Hoosier who has been in East Texas since 2003. I've been a photographer, page designer, web editor and a digital editor in Longview and Marshall.