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We Give Thanks volunteers prep Thanksgiving meals for drive-through pickup at Honda Center

Employees unload boxes of frozen food on Thursday at Second Harvest's distribution facility in Irvine.
Employees unload boxes of frozen food on Thursday at Second Harvest’s distribution facility in Irvine as they prepare for the 34th annual We Give Thanks event to provide meals and supplemental groceries for Orange County residents who continue to struggle with food insecurity.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Volunteers from the Anaheim Ducks organization started assembling Thanksgiving dinner boxes this week in preparation for the 34th annual We Give Thanks Thanksgiving Day event on Nov. 26.

The event provides Thanksgiving meals and groceries to Orange County residents. This year officials with participating organizations estimate it will take three days to package the boxes as they expect 7,000 cars to drive through the meal distribution area at the Honda Center on Thanksgiving morning.

Second Food Harvest Food Bank and CAP OC Food Bank partnered to provide 1,300 turkeys, 7,000 pies, 13,000 pounds of potatoes and 175,000 pounds of boxed food. Waste Not OC will help prep, package and blast-freeze meals as well as redistribute any excess food to local pantries.

Typically, We Give Thanks, Inc. has held the event as a buffet. It started 33 years ago in the parking lot of Frank Garcia’s family-owned Anaheim restaurant, La Casa Garcia when he decided to serve free Thanksgiving dinner to families in need. Each year, the numbers grew and for over a decade the event was held at the Honda Center co-hosted with Wells Fargo and the Anaheim Ducks.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the buffet has changed to a drive-through setup with the help of Second Harvest, which held similar pop-up food distributions during the beginning of pandemic lockdowns in the spring.

There are a few slots open on the volunteer registration page for those who would like to help package or distribute meals in three-hour to five-hour shifts outside of the Honda Center. Second Harvest is also accepting donations of any size.

Volunteers wearing safety vests help organize stacks of boxed Thanksgiving meals.
Volunteers wearing safety vests help organize stacks of boxed Thanksgiving meals on Thursday at Second Harvest’s distribution facility in Irvine as they prepare to for the 34th annual We Give Thanks Thanksgiving Day event.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

If you go

What: 34th annual We Give Thanks Thanksgiving Day event
When: Thursday, Nov. 26, 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Honda Center, 2695 East Katella Ave., Anaheim, CA 92806 (Distribution is off Douglass Road; follow directional signs)
Cost: Free
Info: wegivethanksinc.org

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