Courtesy Morongo Band
Commander Richard De La Hoya (left) and Joe Diaz of Riverside’s Ysmael Villegas Memorial VFW Post 184 load 50 Thanksgiving turkeys they received from Morongo on Monday which the VFW will use to feed families in the city’s Casa Blanca neighborhood. “We use the turkeys to provide community members and the homeless with a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. We couldn’t do this without Morongo’s assistance,” De La Hoya said.

Morongo Provides One-Millionth Thanksgiving Turkey


The 28th Annual Morongo Thanksgiving Outreach program has reached a new milestone, providing another 10,000 turkeys this year to help those in need this holiday season.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians distributed 10,000 free turkeys on Monday to charities and churches that will use the donated birds to provide 220,000 Thanksgiving meals to families, seniors and veterans across Southern California.

With this year’s donation, Morongo’s annual Thanksgiving Outreach program has provided over one million holiday meals to the less fortunate over the past 28 years.

“Morongo’s Thanksgiving Outreach program has helped the community for 28 years and we are excited to know that as of this year, our tribe has helped feed more than one million people in need,” Morongo Tribal Councilman Tom Linton said. “One million holiday meals is quite a milestone but we have no intention of slowing down. At Morongo, giving is a part of who we are and that will never change.”

The annual Morongo program has provided over 80,000 turkeys to help feed those in need. For a second consecutive year, the tribe provided a record-high 10,000 turkeys.

Dozens of tribal members and volunteers arrived Monday at the Morongo Community Center to load truckloads of frozen turkeys that the tribe donated to more than 90 non- profit organizations, churches and social programs from across the Inland Empire and Southern California. Groups receiving turkeys are based in Banning, Riverside, San Bernardino, Temecula, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Palm Desert, Los Angeles and many other communities.

Among the churches, food pantries, schools, veterans groups and homeless shelters receiving turkeys this year: the Los Angeles Mission (300 turkeys), Inland AIDS Project in Riverside (200 turkeys), Martha’s Village in Indio (200 turkeys), Temecula People Helping People (200 turkeys) and HELP Inc. in Banning (250 turkeys), among many others.

“One-million holiday meals is amazing and speaks volumes about Morongo’s commitment to helping others in our local communities,” said Darla Burkett, executive director of the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, which received 400 turkeys from Morongo. “Words cannot express our appreciation to Morongo and their spirit of giving during the Thanksgiving.”

“Every year, we know we can count on Morongo to help families and seniors in Southwest Riverside County who might otherwise go without a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Denny Miguel of Temecula People Helping People. “These are tough times and thanks to Morongo’s generosity, our organization and many others are helping give people in our communities a chance to give thanks again this year.”

More than 400 of the turkeys were bound for numerous chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other local veterans groups.

“In the current economy, there is a high rate of unemployment and veterans in our community are not immune to that,” said Pete Maroosis of VFW Post 1956 in Sun City. “The Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ compassionate project of donating turkeys to our veterans will help make it possible for veterans and their families to celebrate the holidays and is keeping with the true spirit of Thanksgiving.”

Herb Smith, president of The Los Angeles Mission, expressed his thanks for the 300 turkeys his organization received from Morongo. The turkeys will help feed hundreds of poor and homeless men, women and children on Skid Row in Los Angeles this year.

“Every year, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians blesses those in the greatest need by providing warm, Thanksgiving meals,” Smith said. “The Los Angeles Mission is honored to partner with Morongo to provide food and care to others again this Thanksgiving.”

Participating groups submitted applications to the tribe before April and were notified this summer that they had been selected to receive turkeys at Monday’s event.


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