'Miracle on the Hudson' Survivor Gives Back to Families in Need on Thanksgiving

Casey Jones(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — For the seventh consecutive year, a Florida man is donating Thanksgiving turkeys to less fortunate families after being inspired by his own “Miracle on the Hudson” survival story.

Casey Jones, 56 of Jacksonville, was aboard US Airways Flight 1549 on Jan. 15, 2009, when it made an emergency landing in the Hudson River.

“The reason it was important for me is because at the end of the day of the plane crash I looked in the mirror at the hotel and the face staring back at me was that of a homeless person,” Jones told ABC News. “Everything I was wearing was given to me, I had a cut in my head from hitting the tray table on impact, my hair was wet from falling in the river. It gave me a compassion for the homeless that I never would have had. The gift I received that day was that of compassion.”

In 2010, Jones was on his way to a public speaking event when he heard on the radio that the Salvation Army had not received enough turkeys that year to feed poor families. Soon after, he launched the first “Miracle on the Hudson” turkey drive — collecting 140 turkeys for families in need. Last year, he raised enough money for 315 turkeys and has helped feed about 1,500 families to date, he said.

“This year, we might set a record,” Jones said. “We might raise money for 350 [families] based on where we’re at. By doing this, people can have the same impact. It’s just the click of a button. When thy sit down and have Thanksgiving dinner, they know others are having a great meal just like them because of their efforts. No matter how big or small, that’s huge.”

Before the holiday, Jones sends out an email to friends requesting donations.

“Thirty dollars buys two turkeys and makes a difference in the lives of those families,” he wrote in the message. “If you choose not to give, no problem. I only ask that you keep those in need in your thoughts and prayers to overcome the challenges they face each day.”

Jones is about $200 shy of his $5,000 goal on the “Miracle on the Hudson Turkey Drive” GoFundMe page.

Every penny raised by community members goes toward the turkeys, which will be brought for the Salvation Army of Northeast Florida and distributed to local families, Jones said.

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