Morongo’s Turkey Giveaway Provides 150,000 Thanksgiving Dinners

The tribe gave out 10,000 turkeys this week to help feed those in need as part of 33rd Annual Morongo Thanksgiving Outreach Program.

MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION -- The Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Cabazon, CA. distributed 10,000 free turkeys this week that will provide an estimated 150,000 Thanksgiving meals to families, seniors and veterans in need across Southern California.

With this year’s donation, Morongo’s annual Thanksgiving Outreach program has provided more than 2.5 million holiday meals to the less fortunate since the program was formally launched by the tribe 33 years ago.

“At Morongo, giving is a part of who we are, and that will never change,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin. “We feel fortunate to be able to help provide holiday meals and comfort to those in need across Southern California.”

On Nov. 13 and Nov. 14, dozens of tribal members and volunteers gathered at the Morongo Community Center to distribute the Thanksgiving turkeys to 99 nonprofit 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, Coachella, 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 all the fixings to help feed thousands of people who would otherwise not be able to afford and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.

Non-profit groups receiving turkeys ranged from the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission in Indio to the Los Angeles Rescue Mission, the Armed Services YMCA in Twentynine Palms, Carol’s Kitchen in Calimesa, Martha’s Village in Indio, the Kansas Avenue Resource Center in Riverside, and many others.

“Every year, Morongo steps up to help our organization provide hot meals and hope to thousands of people across the Coachella Valley, and we are deeply grateful for the tribe’s continued generosity,” said Darla Burkett, executive director of the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, which received 400 turkeys from the tribe.

Hundreds of veterans and military families benefitted from the tribe’s Thanksgiving Outreach program, which provided more than 425 turkeys this year to local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other military support groups.

“Thanks to Morongo, military families who have sacrificed so much in serving our nation will enjoy a holiday meal with their loved ones and friends,” said Todd Sieja, president of the Western Eagle Foundation in Temecula.

The Los Angeles Mission received 200 birds to help feed the homeless this holiday. Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission, said the Morongo donation will help feed those on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

“The Morongo Band of Mission Indians continues to bless the poor and homeless men, women and children we serve,” Smith said. “We are honored to be partnering with Morongo once again to provide food and care this Thanksgiving.” 

To receive turkeys, participating groups submitted applications to the tribe and were notified over the summer that they had been selected. Applications are typically due in March.