Shalimar Thanksgiving event survives

A 13-year Thanksgiving tradition of giving along Shalimar Drive in Costa Mesa nearly went cold this year when the volunteers who provided the economically challenged area with free turkeys and side dishes could no longer continue.

But THINK Together, a nonprofit provider of academic services, solicited help from the National Charity League, and the Newport Beach Chapter stepped in Sunday to provide fowl and fixings to the district's residents.

"During a time when money remains tight and our Shalimar families continue to struggle, THINK Together's staff was very concerned that many families would have to go without this Thanksgiving," said Mia Evans, associate director of marketing and communications for THINK Together.

"Alejandra Alvarez, THINK Together's Shalimar Learning Center site coordinator, shared this with the National Charity League, Newport Chapter, and they immediately wanted to help."

Alvarez and Alberto Martinez, THINK Together's Shalimar Teen Center site coordinator, decided to try to identify the 20 neediest Shalimar families with hopes of at least serving them. This was a far cry from years past, when some 100 families had been fed at the Turkey Day event.

But the National Charity League wanted to do more. The board members reported back to THINK Together that they could indeed finance meals for all 100 families, preserving the local tradition.

So on Sunday, charity league women, as well as many of their daughters, served turkey, green beans, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.

"By stroller, wagon or cart, 100 Shalimar families arrived to pick up their Thanksgiving dinner," Evans said. "We are so grateful to the National Charity League for their generous donation. Because of their kindness, many of our families will now have a happy holiday to celebrate."

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