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Morongo Donates 13,000 Turkeys to Mark 30th Anniversary of Annual Thanksgiving Outreach Program

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has given more than 100,000 Thanksgiving turkeys

over the past three decades to aid families, veterans and seniors in need.


MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION – The Morongo Band of Mission Indians celebrated the 30th anniversary of its annual Thanksgiving Outreach program by distributing 13,000 free turkeys this week to nonprofit groups, churches and charities that will use the birds to provide nearly 200,000 Thanksgiving meals across Southern California.

With this year’s donation, Morongo’s annual Thanksgiving Outreach program has given away more than 100,000 turkeys – enough to provide more than 1.5 million holiday meals.

“The roots of Morongo’s Thanksgiving Outreach program date back decades to a time when our tribe reached out to help others even as we ourselves faced uncertainty and adversity,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin. “Those core values remain alive and strong at Morongo today, and we are thankful to have helped so many people over the past 30 years.”

On Monday and Tuesday, dozens of tribal members and volunteers gathered at the Morongo Community Center to help distribute the frozen turkeys to 126 nonprofit organizations, churches, food pantries, schools, veterans groups and homeless shelters from across the Inland Empire and Southern California. Groups receiving turkeys hailed from Banning, Beaumont, Riverside, San Bernardino, Lake Elsinore, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Mecca, Los Angeles, and many other communities. 

Recipients included the Coachella Rescue Mission (450 turkeys), Inland AIDS Project in San Bernardino (200 turkeys), Hope Food Bank in San Jacinto (200 turkeys), Kansas Avenue Resource Center in Riverside (350 turkeys), Martha’s Village in Indio (200 turkeys) and Saul Martinez Elementary School in Mecca (300 turkeys), among many others.

“Thirty years is an amazing milestone and a testament to the generosity of Morongo,” said Darla Burkett, executive director of the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission. “We are always very grateful for Morongo’s donation, which will help those in the greatest need in the Coachella Valley again this year.”

Riverside County Fifth District Supervisor Marion Ashley applauded Morongo’s ongoing generosity to the community.

“Thanksgiving is a chance to share our many blessings and to help others,” Ashley said.  “For 30 years, the Morongo tribe has truly embodied the spirit of giving by making sure that hundreds of thousands of people in need received hot Thanksgiving dinners.”

Numerous local groups in the San Gorgonio Pass received turkeys from the program.

“What a tremendous blessing it has been to have turkeys donated from Morongo every year,” said Pastor Victor Archuleta of Victory Outreach Banning. “It’s amazing to see the commitment of Morongo to the community and to Victory Outreach to make sure local families who are struggling get what they need during the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Alexandra Tompkins, executive director of Carol’s Kitchen, agreed, saying “We really appreciate all that Morongo does in helping us feed the hungry in Banning, Beaumont and Cabazon. I can’t say enough to express our gratitude to the tribe for its dedication to supporting families in the San Gorgonio Pass over the past 30 years.”

Hundreds of veterans and military families are benefitting from the tribe’s Thanksgiving Outreach program which provided nearly 600 turkeys this year to local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other military support groups.

“Without Morongo, many of our veterans and active duty families in need would be going without this holiday,” said Kevin Buss, adjutant for the VFW Post 4089 in Temecula.  “We’ve been doing this program with Morongo for 10 years and every year it increases as the need to support our veterans continues to grow. We are very grateful to Morongo for striving to help meet that need.”

The Union Rescue Mission and Los Angeles Mission received a combined total of 550 birds to help feed the homeless this holiday.

Herb Smith, president of the Los Angeles Mission, said the donations would help feed hundreds 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.