SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The Thanksgiving food drive got off to an early start in Silicon Valley Monday with several 49ers players on hand to help kick things off.

Star linebacker Patrick Willis and rookie fullback Bruce Miller were among the players who helped serve lunch to those less fortunate at City Team in San Jose.

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“Being able to do something we love to do, and that’s to give back to those that make us who we are, that’s the fans,” Willis said.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

City Team is gearing up for their big holiday feed next Monday. City Team spokeswoman Carol Patterson said they will serve about 2,000 people a Thanksgiving meal, and doing the same in San Francisico and Oakland.

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She said they’re seeing an even greater need this year.

“Families are struggling and we’re seeing the next wave of the unemployed,” she said. “We’re seeing about a 15 to 20 percent increase in families trying to register for a food box.”

Patterson said the agency is still a thousand turkeys short.

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