As Thanksgiving has approached, the Salvation Army in Compton has been overwhelmed with requests for turkeys from families that cannot afford them. But the organization has been hit hard by the same drop in donations that has plagued charities across the country.
Capt. Ezekiel Guevara said he started the week with just one turkey in his freezer, far short of the 150 he was able to hand out last year and nowhere near the 500 he hoped to give to needy families this year.
Guevara's story made the local news. Soon afterward, he got a call from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"I was really surprised to hear his voice," Guevara said before launching into his best Schwarzenegger impersonation: "I understand you got a problem."
The news story had prompted donations to pour in, but Guevara told the governor he was still 140 turkeys short of his goal of 500.
Schwarzenegger wrote a check to pay for 240 turkeys, "to make sure they didn't run out," said the governor's spokesman, Aaron McLear, who declined to specify the amount of the check.
For the last decade, Schwarzenegger has also donated turkeys to the Hollenbeck Youth Center in Boyle Heights, McLear said.
Guevara said that now "there are a lot of happy people having a happy Thanksgiving."
The Compton Salvation Army will serve a free hot meal Thursday to "everybody who wants to come," he said.