BANNING, CA – The Morongo Band of Mission Indians gave away 13,500 free turkeys this week to non-profit groups, churches and charities across Southern California as part of the tribe’s 35th annual Thanksgiving Outreach program. The turkeys donated this year will provide nearly 275,000 holiday meals to families, seniors and veterans in need. Since the program’s creation, Morongo has given away nearly 160,000 turkeys, which in turn have provided an estimated 3 million holiday meals.
“Over the past 35 years, Morongo has remained committed to helping others to provide hope and opportunity to those in need, and that assistance is especially important this year in light of the acute challenges that have left so many families struggling,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin.
Tribal members and volunteers gathered at the Morongo Community Center on Nov. 15-17 to distribute the turkeys to 106 non-profit organizations, such as churches, food pantries, schools, veteran groups and homeless shelters from across Southern California. Groups receiving turkeys hailed from Banning, Beaumont, Riverside, San Bernardino, Moreno Valley, Temecula, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Redlands, Los Angeles, and other communities.
The groups will use the turkeys to provide hot holiday meals to those in need or will distribute the birds in holiday food baskets with additional sides dishes to help feed thousands of people who otherwise would not have been able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner this year.
“It would be difficult to fulfill our mission to serve thousands across the Coachella Valley at Thanksgiving without Morongo,” said Darla Burkett, Executive Director of the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, which received 500 turkeys from the tribe. “Morongo’s act of giving during these difficult times allows our families to feel connected this Thanksgiving.”
Other non-profit groups who received turkeys included the Los Angeles Rescue Mission, the Galilee Center in Mecca, the Western Eagle Foundation in Temecula, Martha’s Village and Kitchen in Indio, Immanuel House in Moreno Valley, VFW Post 4379 in Winchester, the American Legion Post 53 in Hemet, Carol’s Kitchen in Beaumont, and many others.
Pastor Victor Archuleta of Victory Outreach Church in Banning said the 250 turkeys provided by Morongo will help struggling families enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner together.
“As we serve families across the San Gorgonio Pass, it has been such a blessing to have turkeys donated by Morongo through their Thanksgiving Outreach Program.” said Pastor Archuleta. “For 35 years, Morongo has embodied the spirit of giving.”
Thousands of veterans and military families have benefited from the tribe’s Thanksgiving Outreach program with turkeys donated to local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other military support groups.
“With Morongo’s help, the Western Eagle Foundation will be able to help military families share and enjoy holiday meals with their loved ones,” said Todd Sieja, President of the Western Eagle Foundation in Temecula. “Our veterans and their families are very appreciative of this opportunity.”
To receive turkeys, participating groups submitted applications to the tribe and were notified over the summer that they had been selected. For organizations interested in receiving turkeys next Thanksgiving, applications for next year are due in Spring 2022.