Blanca and Ofelia giggled with their children on Thursday as they enjoyed a plate with the usual Thanksgiving fixings at the Salvation Army Glendale.
The pair share an unfortunate bond: They are both victims of domestic violence and reside in a protective shelter.
But despite their challenges, Blanca, 37, and Ofelia, 47, said they felt grateful for the help they have received from the nonprofit organization, especially the Thanksgiving dinner.
“This is great help for us because of the situation we are in right now,” Ofelia said. “It lifts us up…We have to be mom and dad.”
Knowing that the organization supports them during their struggles, Blanca said, “gives them the strength to move forward.”
Blanca, Ofelia and their children were one group of more than 300 people who visited the organization for its annual Thanksgiving dinner. Some guests waited in line outside the organization’s facility on the 300 block of West Windsor Road as early as 10 a.m. for dinner.
“This is more than just a meal, but it’s also a chance for people to have a place to be, fellowship and to not be alone on this holiday,” said Capt. Rio Ray, who heads up the organization.
The dinner crowd was a mix between some familiar faces and new guests, including seniors and families, he said.
The dinner, Ray said, was a perfect example of the community “coming together to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Last year, the organization served dinner to 240 people. Still, they expected that number would increase this year, so they prepared more food this year.
“This is by far the biggest crowd we have ever had,” Rick White, the organization’s director of social services and volunteer coordinator, said Thursday.
Fifty-eight volunteers catered to guests, who were treated to 23 turkeys —which were donated by the Glendale Hilton and Anoush Banquet Hall — and an array of side dishes, including stuffing, bread rolls and mashed potatoes and gravy. Dinner was topped off with a slice of pumpkin pie.
“It’s a humbling experience to see the community come out on a holiday to serve the homeless and those who have nowhere else to go,” White said. “What we are really trying to do is provide a human connection and a smile for people who have nowhere else to go.”