Free Thanksgiving turkey dinners will be given to single parents

Frida Lundström

For a student who’s a single parent and on a fixed, low income, paying for a Thanksgiving family dinner may be impossible.

That’s why the EOPS/CARE program‘s annual free turkey dinner giveaway, scheduled Nov. 24 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at East Campus’ Winslow Maxwell overlook, has many City College parents feeling thankful.

Pat Canning, now retired, started the turkey dinner giveaway when she was an EOPS staff back in 1996. She wanted to make sure that every single parent that goes to SBCC could celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving with his or her children. The event will be going into its 14th year.

“She started out with just a box in her office,” said Melissa Placencia, student program advisor. “People would donate stuff and then she would put together little bags to give to the students.”

The EOPS/CARE program helps low-income single parents attain the education needed to become self-sufficient. The program has many different ways to help single patents, ranging from giving them children’s books and Christmas trees at Christmas, to the upcoming free turkey dinner event.

To participate in the EOPS program, a student must be 18 years old, a high school graduate, already a parent or expecting, and a low income California resident.

“It’s just a blessing being able to have a thanksgiving dinner,” said Laura Jordan, a 40-year-old single parent studying at City College. “And taking the stress away of having to think about how you are going to get it together financially because you don’t want to disappoint your children,” she added.

EOPS orders 150 turkeys to give away at the event. But Placencia said not all of the 200 students in the EOPS program are expected to come.

Families receive one turkey, dressing, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce, butter, fresh carrots, potatoes, a foil baking pan and cool whip – everything they need to make a real turkey dinner, all in one bag.

This program means a lot to Simon Arias, a 28-year-old single parent studying Communications.

“I was stoked when they were giving away turkeys,” Arias said. “It felt good bringing a turkey home to my mother and grandmother.”

Bianca Barajas, a 20-year-old single mom, was one of the students who helped put the meal bags together and hand out last year.

“Helping out made me appreciate it ten times more,” Barajas said. “Just because I saw the work that was put into this.”

Next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, eligible students can head to the Winslow Maxwell Outlook near the Humanities building. There they’ll check in with Melissa Placencia, and move on to tables packed with turkeys.

“I don’t even have the words to say how grateful we are to have such a good community here on campus, that they are willing to help,” Placencia said. “It gets you in the heart.”

“Some of my students don’t even have a place to live,” They don’t have support from their families so they get support here in school,” she added.

To finance the event they ask staff and faculty if they can donate at least $25 to help cover costs. Local supermarkets, including Scolari’s, Jordano’s, Trader Joe’s, have joined the college’s Foundation, faculty, staff and Student Senate.