Advertisement
Share

Share Our Selves helps families in need with Thanksgiving food distribution event

Anna Schroeder carries two whole turkeys as she helps distribute Thanksgiving food in Costa Mesa.
Anna Schroeder, development director of Share Our Selves, carries two whole turkeys as she helps distribute Thanksgiving food on Tuesday morning in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The holidays are often associated with a season of giving, and hundreds of families will have the opportunity to enjoy a staple of Thanksgiving following a food distribution event hosted by Share Our Selves in Costa Mesa.

Share Our Selves, a network of health centers that has served the Orange County community since 1970, expected to see more than 1,200 families participate in the program through Wednesday. The food giveaway got underway on Monday, with some 600 families showing up for the drive-up event.

Recipients were given a turkey and a bag of produce that included essentials for a Thanksgiving meal.

Rudy Ramos, center, SOS chief operations officer, and Don Hoa, left, facilities and safety manager, add items to food bags.
Rudy Ramos, center, Share Our Selves chief operations officer, and Don Hoa, left, facilities and safety manager, add items into food bags as they help distribute Thanksgiving food on Tuesday morning in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

State Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, whose office sponsored the event, said she was blown away by the scale of the need in the community. All the slots for the three-day distribution event filled up in a week, and Monday’s availability was accounted for within a day.

“It’s eye-opening to see how many families in our community are living so close to the edge and barely, barely getting by,” Petrie-Norris said. “I think it’s heartbreaking to see the need but gratifying to be able to be part of helping people have a Thanksgiving celebration.”

Volunteers from AAA Auto Club Enterprises, Lido House Newport Beach, the Key Club of Costa Mesa High School and Phillips-Medisize also helped put on the event.

Volunteers with AAA Auto Club Enterprises help prepare food bags during a Thanksgiving food distribution event.
Volunteers with AAA Auto Club Enterprises help prepare food bags during a Thanksgiving food distribution event on Tuesday morning at Share Our Selves in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“Share Our Selves has 160 employees and acts as a community health center,” Christy Ward, chief executive of the organization, said. In addition, the group aims to bring stability — both from a health perspective and that of one’s living situation — for those who utilize their services.

Among its offerings, Share Our Selves has a full-time food pantry that operates Monday through Friday. Ward added that rent and utility assistance is available, as are case management and navigation services for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Additional community programs run by the organization include “Adopt A Family” in December, during which donors are asked to provide gifts and gift cards for the holidays. The group also facilitates a backpack giveaway event as students prepare to go back to school. For more information on these events and how to get involved, visit shareourselves.org.

Alice Tutunjian, left, Share Our Selves Foundation staff member, loads a turkey in a truck on Tuesday in Costa Mesa.
Alice Tutunjian, left, Share Our Selves Foundation staff member, loads a turkey in a truck during a Thanksgiving food distribution on Tuesday in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“Our clientele, for the most part, are at or below the federal poverty level,” Ward said. “There’s a lot of need, and so one of the things that I appreciate about our organization is that when we identify people in need, we’re able to help them with their unique situation.

“If they need access to food, if they need a bridge for rent, or they need health services, dental services, we never turn anybody away because they can’t pay for their care. We’ll always ensure that they can get medical [and] dental needs, get their medications that they need, regardless of having the funds to do that.”

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.


Advertisement