1,000 military families receive Thanksgiving dinners at turkey giveaway
By Steve Sohanaki
Gathered outside the San Onofre Commissary, roughly 1,000 military families received free Thanksgiving dinners on Monday as part of the San Clemente Military Family Outreach’s annual Turkey Giveaway.
Other organizations volunteering at the event included the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, a number of local churches from the area and about 15 Camp Pendleton Marines.
“Our goal is to feed 1,000 Marine Corps and Navy families,” said former Vietnam Platoon Commander Richard Wheeler who’s now a member of the SCMFO. “The SCMFO has been doing this for about seven years now.”
Being an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, the SCMFO was able to purchase the turkeys from the commissary through fundraising prior to the event. About 80 to 90 percent of the additional non-perishable foods were purchased there as well and the rest was donated by seven local churches: St. Andrew’s UMC, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Our Savior’s Lutheran, Christ Lutheran, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Palisades UMC and San Clemente Saddleback Church. The families receiving the dinners were all Marine Corps and Navy families housed at the north end of Camp Pendleton.
“Whatever turkeys and other food we don’t give away will be given back to the San Onofre Commissary,” said SCMFO Co-chair Maria Jones. “It’s great because that way nothing goes to waste.”
The San Onofre Commissary is one of many chain commissaries operated by the Defense Commissary agency. The organization’s goal is to provide affordable groceries for military families in a safe and secure environment.
“Our goal is to just make sure that our military families get the food they need for the holidays,” Jones said. “It’s just great to be able to help them.”