Since 2012, Santa Clarita residents have come together to prepare and deliver approximately 2,000 homemade Thanksgiving meals for those in need with the annual Thankful Giving.
Over the course of a week, more than 200 volunteers gathered at JamWest Foods to cook and package the meals, working long hours to ensure that each meal is ready to be delivered by noon on Thanksgiving Day.
“The whole purpose behind it is giving people what you’d give your own family,” said Martha Aguilera, one of the organizers. “The most important thing to me is that everyone gets the same meal. There are six sides and everything’s made from scratch. We even made the gravy from scratch and 500 pounds of cheese sauce for the mac and cheese.”
This is Newhall resident Olivia Twitchell’s second year participating, and she spent a couple of hours volunteering on Wednesday.
“It’s good to give back to your community,” Twitchell said, smiling as she cut and packaged pumpkin pies.
Meals are distributed near and far to homeless, veterans, those in shelters, abuse victims, children, single parents and first responders, among others.
“It goes to whoever needs it, like someone who has cancer and couldn’t cook this year or someone who couldn’t afford to cook,” Aguilera added. “I grab about 100 of these meals, and I hand them out under bridges myself.”
Valencia resident Kirsten Catbagan also came to volunteer because she wants to do her part to give back to the community.
“I have a lot of privileges, and I recognize that there are lots of people that don’t, so this is just what I can do to help other people that don’t have what I have,” Catbagan added.