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Community Groups to Offer Thanksgiving Festivities for Santa Monica and Westside Needy
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

November 22, 2016 -- Community groups in Santa Monica and on the Westside are preparing Thanksgiving meals and festivities expected to serve thousands of needy families and individuals, and are also still looking for volunteers and donations of food and other items.

The first celebration will be held Wednesday, November 23, as St. Monica Catholic Community hosts its Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for those facing financial hardships this season or who find themselves alone during the holiday, officials there said.

The dinner is free and will be served from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Auditorium, at 725 California Avenue, one block north of Wilshire.

The entrance to the Auditorium is located on 7th Street between California Avenue and Washington Avenue.

Now a 37-year tradition in Santa Monica, the church’s Thanksgiving meal is prepared and served in a family-style atmosphere and feeds approximately 1,000 people. Guests also receive free toiletries and are invited to browse the event’s “clothing boutique” for free, new and used, cold weather clothing and supplies.

Donations of food, cold weather clothing and blankets are welcome. Details can be found at www.stmonica.net/thanksgiving.

The annual Westside Thanksgiving celebration at the Veteran Affairs north campus, meanwhile, starts at 6 a.m. on Thursday and ends at 6 p.m. The event is on the north campus of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System near Wilshire and Sepulveda, just west of the 405 Freeway.

“We have over three decades of tradition serving the community a wonderful free sit-down Thanksgiving dinner,” a representative said. “We also provide free haircuts, blankets, clothing, hygiene kits, medical, optical, and dental services, vaccination, a resource fair, and a children's carnival.”

Organizers are still seeking volunteers, (who should call in advance) and collecting donations. Needed are clothing (clean and in good condition), especially men's pants, food and drinks and money to pay expenses.

Also needed are people to volunteer to work the late afternoon shifts. More information is available by calling 310-394-3153 or at http://www.westsidethanksgiving.org/info.html.

Furthering a tradition that stretches back nearly three decades, Bel Air Church is providing 1,300 Thanksgiving meal boxes that will each feed ten people.

The congregation packs food baskets/boxes for struggling families and individuals throughout the Los Angeles area, which are distributed to Bel Air's local missionary partners, including the Los Angeles Mission, Hope Gardens Family Center, Children's Hunger Fund, and local churches, organizations, and families throughout greater Los Angeles.

The boxes were prepared Monday in the church’s parking lot with food purchased with funds given by church congregants. The church is still accepting financial donations at www.belairpres.org/thanksgiving.

Although Santa Monica is mostly well off financially, slightly more than 11 percent of its 93,640 residents lives in poverty, a significant proportion of which officials believe includes the elderly living on fixed incomes.

Nearly 20 percent Los Angeles County’s residents live poverty, according to U.S. Census data. The homeless population totals 47,000 people. The largest concentration is in the City of Los Angeles.

Santa Monica’s homeless count in January found 728 individuals spending the night in the city, a one percent decrease from the 2015 count. Those living in the streets totaled 416, a three percent increase from last year ("Santa Monica's Homeless Population Declines," March 2, 2016).


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