Churches and social service agencies throughout the county are working together to make sure that come Thanksgiving Day, no one misses a holiday dinner because of lack of funds or transportation.
Some churches are throwing open their doors to provide food both for the stomach and the soul. Other churches and agencies are providing meals, gift baskets and even some home delivery.
The Ojai Valley Ministerial Society will hold "Operation Blessing," a family service of thanksgiving, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Presbyterian Church at Foothill Road and Aliso in Ojai. The Revs. Lyn Thomas of the Wesleyan Church, Coryl Lassen-Wilems of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Bill Barrett of Ojai Valley Community Church and other ministers will join the Rev. Steve Steele of the Presbyterian Church for a "special family evening of thanks to God," said aide Lynn Rastaetter. Toddler care will be provided.
"And on Thanksgiving Day, we'll have the special meal at 3 p.m.," said Rastaetter. "This is not just for homeless or people who are alone. We thought, why not open our doors to the whole community." Diners are asked to call Donna Higson at 646-1437 and leave their name so the cooks can anticipate the turnout for the homemade meal.
In Oxnard, a parish tradition of giving "thanks" and "giving" will continue at St. Anthony's Church at 2511 South C St. at the 9 a.m. bilingual liturgy on Thanksgiving Day. Gifts of nonperishable food or money will be accepted during the Presentation of Gifts, then dispensed by the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Parish children will provide decorated boxes for donations.
St. Paschal Baylon Church in Thousand Oaks also will celebrate a bilingual Mass, at 9:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. Those participating are encouraged to bring their holiday dinner and bread and wine to be placed before the altar for a special blessing, said Barbara Durand of the church.
The church is at 155 E. Janss Road.
Temple Etz Chaim and the United Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks invite the public to an interfaith Thanksgiving service Wednesday, at the Thousand Oaks temple, 1000 E. Janss Road. Refreshments will be served at 7 p.m., followed by a 7:30 service, said Joan Sandoval of Temple Etz Chaim.
"This service is a wonderful way to begin the Thanksgiving holiday," she said. It will be conducted by Rabbi Shimon Paskow and the Rev. Terry Buchart.
The Santa Paula Ministerial Assn. invites "anyone who otherwise wouldn't have a meal" to the fifth annual Thanksgiving supper, to be held this year at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church at 117 N. 7th St.
"Anyone may come--it's for workers and homeless people. We'll sing some hymns and have a prayer," said Bill Baumgarter of the Santa Paula Ministerial Assn., who also pastors at St. Paul's.
"We'll also deliver up to 100 meals at 2 p.m." on Sunday, said Baumgarter. "We work with Caregiver, Meals on Wheels, Hospice and the Santa Paula Hospital. If you can come, call 525-3811, so we can get an idea of how many are coming."
Also helping with the Thanksgiving supper in the Santa Paula area are the Baha'i Faith, First United Methodist and El Buen Pastor Methodist, First Presbyterian, First Christian, Latter-day Saints, Unitarian Universalists and St. Sebastian's Roman Catholic churches.
In Ojai, St. Thomas Aquinas Church will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner Thursday for parishioners at the St. Thomas Center, 185 St. Thomas Drive. Diners, cooks and volunteers are needed. Call 649-9203 for more information.
Other dinners include:
Wednesday, Family to Family, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 660 N. Ventura Ave., Ventura.
Wednesday, Ventura County Rescue Mission, noon to 2 p.m., 234 E. 6th St., Oxnard. Food donations and volunteers to serve and clean up also are needed. Call David Pizano at 487-7667, Ext. 200.
Thanksgiving Day, World University in Ojai, 1 p.m. Matilija and Ventura streets. Vegetarian.
Thanksgiving Day, Salvation Army, 622 Wooley Road, Oxnard. Seatings at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Thanksgiving Day, Salvation Army, 155 S. Oak St., Ventura, noon to 2 p.m. Volunteers to serve are also needed. Call 648-5031.
Thanksgiving Day, Salvation Army, 650 S. Petit, Ventura. Volunteers also needed. Call 648-5031.
In addition, food baskets are available from Catholic Charities at 303 N. Ventura Ave. Monday through Wednesday. The baskets are for families only and require a picture ID for adults, social security number for children, proof of living in the city of Ventura, and proof of income (check stub, AFDC, SSI, etc.)