Bags full of reasons to be thankful

By Aaron Blevins, 11/21/2012


The giving spirit is alive and well in the local area, as many service organizations have been or will be ramping up their holiday offerings to benefit elderly, homeless and low-income residents.

Volunteers of all ages from the organization Big Sunday helped distribute Thanksgiving meals on Wednesday. (photo by Andy Romanoff)

That is certainly the case at Jewish Family Service (JFS), where volunteers will be delivering 200 meals to homebound and frail seniors through its Thanksgiving home-delivered meal program.

Sheila Moore, the organization’s director of senior center services, said JFS is pleased to help during the holidays, which is supposed to be a time of socialization and reflection for families.

“Primarily, with the economy, I think it makes it extra hard for seniors and maybe even their families to provide meals and be a sense of nourishment,” she said. “We’re really happy to be that face and be that hand to reach out to them.”

Moore said the organization has a core of volunteers who consistently step up to help residents and families in need. She referenced Wednesday’s turkey and fixings distribution, in which volunteers provided 2,200 meals to residents at three SOVA sites.

“It’s really an extension of the community and the way the community responds,” Moore added. “We’re happy to be a hub for that.”

JFS will host events for the upcoming December holidays, and could always use more volunteers. The organization also distributes up to 1,000 meals every weekday to area families. For information, call (877)275-4537, or visit

Big Sunday officials and volunteers were busy Wednesday, preparing and distributing as many as 500 meals for low-income families, veterans, the homeless, battered women and runaway teenagers, among others. The organization works with more than 100 nonprofit organizations, executive director David Levinson said.

“It’s gratifying,” he said. “Our whole thing on Big Sunday is that everyone has a way to help someone else.”

Big Sunday has operated since 1999, but is providing Thanksgiving meals for the first time this year. While the Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities have passed, Big Sunday will be offering services throughout the remainder of the year.

“We like to think it’s really what the holidays are all about,” Levinson said.

He said the 3rd Annual Big Sunday Holiday Party & Sing Along will be held at the organization’s office at 6111 Melrose Ave. on Dec. 16. Levinson encouraged the public to attend and participate in the food and toy drive.

“Our mission is not community services, it’s community building,” he added. “Our thing is bringing people together to help one another. People want to help. We do stuff year round, but during the holidays, people come out of the woodwork looking for ways to help. …We’ve had volunteers who were homeless people, and we’ve had volunteers who are famous movie stars. And everybody pitches in and finds a way to help.”

To volunteer, call (323)549-9944, or visit

Food on Foot will be offering meals and other services to low-income and homeless residents in the Hollywood area today. Founder Jay Goldinger anticipated that as many as 500 to 700 meals will be served.

“It’s great that we’re able to provide it,” he said.

However, the organization is completely booked in terms of volunteers, though it will have additional opportunities later in the holiday season. Food on Foot operates with no government support, Goldinger said.

To volunteer, call (310)442-0088, or visit

All over the city, organizations and individuals have been reaching out to help the needy. The Los Angeles Dodgers handed out turkeys on Nov. 13, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa served meals at the Los Angeles Mission on Wednesday. Project Angel Food delivered Thanksgiving meals to seriously ill residents this week, and Covenant House California, which serves homeless youth, treated its residents to a meal on Tuesday.



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