Faculty and staff at the William S. Hart Union High and Sulphur Springs school districts, along with other community partners and local church organizations, worked together to provide Thanksgiving meal kits to 500 Santa Clarita Valley families during the third annual Give A Turkey Sunday.
With COVID-19 restrictions, what typically consisted of 200 volunteers was down to the bare minimum, but organizers felt it important to keep the event going.
“We weren’t going to let it go by — there’s too many families in need,” said April Rego, resource coordinator at Golden Valley High School and director of Project SCV, an organization run through The Sanctuary Church aimed at meeting practical needs in the SCV. “We’re better together, we can’t do this alone, and it’s really a community effort.”
Volunteers from Santa Clarita Christian School, Canyon, Desert Streams, 412 and Sanctuary Church, among other community partners, joined staff from both school districts to package and distribute the meal kits, comprised of frozen turkeys, canned foods and other non-perishable items, along with Walmart gift cards.
“We have a lot of families that are in need right now, and we want to make sure that we’re touching all of our families lives that we can,” SSUD Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi said. “For our school district, it means so much to be able to give back to our families.”
While many families attended a drive-thru pickup event at Golden Valley on Sunday, other meals were personally delivered by volunteers to families.
“We wanted to make sure there weren’t any barriers in families being able to be fed this Thanksgiving,” Rego said.
For Chris Silva, of Silva Realty, volunteering to help with the event hits home.
“I was that demographic growing up,” Silva said. “I was raised on welfare. If I didn’t eat at school, I didn’t eat. I was homeless for a while, so it really spoke to me what they’re doing for the kids. … I know a lot of people out here, so I just kind of leveraged all the relationships.”
Those relationships came to include the Golden Valley Walmart’s general manager, who helped to not only allow organizers to host a food drive, while bringing in sponsors to encourage donations, but also assist in storing all 500 turkeys until the donation was made.
“We also got a stack of gift cards from the community when we did the drive, … so that if there’s a family that comes through that’s not on our list, we’ll give them a gift card to go buy their Turkey,” Rego added. “We’re not turning anybody down.”
The meal kits were then donated to families from across the SCV and beyond who’d been identified through the SSUSD’s Family Resource Center and Golden Valley’s PAWS Center, or Parent, Awareness, Workshops and Support, as well as the Department of Children and Family Services and Fostering Youth Independence, to be in need of them.
“We started this three years ago as a way to feed Golden Valley’s families,” Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias said. “It’s really turned into a community effort. We’re proud that we pioneered the thing, but we’re so blessed to see others join in because that was our goal. … This here is just heartfelt and rewarding.”
Each year, organizers hope to expand the program to be able to continue helping families in need valleywide throughout the year.
For more information, visit giveaturkey.com.