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Morongo’s Turkey Giveaway Provides 200,000 Thanksgiving Dinners

The 32nd Annual Morongo Thanksgiving Outreach program gives 10,000 turkeys to help feed those in need this holiday season.

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MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION -- The Morongo Band of Mission Indians distributed 10,000 free turkeys this week that will be used to provide more than 200,000 Thanksgiving meals to families, seniors and veterans in need across Southern California.

Now in its 32nd year, Morongo’s annual Thanksgiving Outreach program has given away more than 120,000 turkeys – enough to provide more than 2 million holiday meals.

“At Morongo, we have always strived to help others, even as our own tribe struggled to survive,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin. “Giving is a part of who we are, and we feel fortunate to be able to help others in need this holiday season.”

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On Nov. 14 and Nov. 15, dozens of tribal members and volunteers gathered at the Morongo Community Center to help distribute the Thanksgiving turkeys to 102 nonprofit organizations, churches, food pantries, schools, veteran groups and homeless shelters from across Southern California. Groups receiving turkeys hailed from Banning, Beaumont, Riverside, San Bernardino, Lake Elsinore, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Mecca, Los Angeles, and other communities. 

The groups will use the turkeys to provide hot holiday meals to those in need, or distribute  the birds in holiday food baskets to help feed thousands of people who would otherwise not be able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner this season.

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Non-profit groups receiving turkeys ranged the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission in Indio to The Los Angeles Rescue Mission, Carol’s Kitchen, Martha’s Village, the Rock Church in San Bernardino, Hope Food Bank in San Jacinto, and numerous veterans groups and churches.

“Thanks again to Morongo’s immense generosity, our organization will be able to provide hot meals, hope and holiday cheer to thousands in need across the Coachella Valley,” said Darla Burkett, executive director of the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, which received 400 turkeys from the tribe.

Alexandra Tompkins, co-founder of Carol's Kitchen in Banning agreed, saying, “We're incredibly grateful to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. The free turkeys we are receiving from Morongo will allow us to serve hundreds of traditional, nutritious meals to families in need during Thanksgiving week.”

Hundreds of veterans and military families are benefitting from the tribe’s Thanksgiving Outreach program which provided more than 350 turkeys this year to local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other military support groups.

“Morongo’s generosity and concern for our communities is amazing,” said Pastor Victor Archuleta of Victory Outreach in Banning, which will use the turkeys to feed the homeless and provide food baskets to those in need.

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The Los Angeles Mission received 300 birds to help feed the homeless this holiday. Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission, said the donations would help feed those on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

“Every year, we can always count on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians 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 earlier this year and were notified over the summer that they had been selected.


Photo 1:Volunteer Connie Lynn Delatorre of Calvary Chapel in Beaumont helps package some of the 10,000 turkeys given away by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.
Photo 2:Nicole Dulaney of Word of Faith Pentecostal Church was among the more than 100 volunteers who helped out at the 32nd Annual Morongo Thanksgiving Outreach.
Photo 3:Hundreds of turkeys bound for the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission are loaded onto a truck for delivery.
Photo 4:Volunteers package the 10,000 turkeys given away by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.