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EAST LOS ANGELES : CHP Officers Rescue Thanksgiving Feast

November 20, 1994|MARY ANNE PEREZ

Just as organizers of an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the needy at Ruben Salazar Park were paring down their event because of a lack of resources, the California Highway Patrol came to the rescue with another dinner that will serve more people than ever.

"Santa Claus came in the form of the CHP," said Cris Mojica, who has helped put the Thanksgiving dinner together for the last five years and is also helping out with the CHP dinner.

Over the years, the Thanksgiving dinner that once served 200 needy people in the area had grown to feed 1,000 last year, Mojica said.

But because they have not been able to collect as many donations this year, the organizers planned to treat only about 200 senior citizens to a Thanksgiving feast and dance at the park Saturday.

In addition to that meal, officers from the Montebello station of the CHP raised nearly $4,000 to provide a Thanksgiving dinner to needy families in the area. It will be served this afternoon at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 3860 E. 3rd St.

About eight officers, led by Capt. Gary Dominguez, were moved by poor children they had seen on a drive to Bajamar, in Baja California, for a golf tournament, CHP spokesman Luis Gutierrez said.

When they returned three weeks ago, they started soliciting donations from fellow officers and support staff and asked the church to find the needy families and round up volunteers to cook the meal.

"We hadn't done it before but times are tough," Gutierrez said, adding that officers want to continue the annual event. "It's hard for these families to get Thanksgiving dinner for their kids."

Los Caballeros, a group of Mexican American business people, will do the cooking and start serving dinner from 2:30 p.m. until the food runs out.

About 25 officers will be on hand this afternoon to greet people at the door and help serve the meals. Mojica, a retired trucker, and others who volunteer at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church have given out 1,500 tickets for the meal to needy families and homeless people in the area.

They did not have to go far to find the needy, he said, noting that bread lines form at Our Lady of Lourdes three times a week. This afternoon's dinner will include families from Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe and surrounding neighborhoods.

"It's really amazing that we had so much luck this year," Mojica said. "In years past, we would write letters for donations and we would get some here and there. They saved the day because we're concentrating on the really needy."

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