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A feast for the poor, needy

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By Eui-jo Marquez

By Eui-jo Marquez

The Riverside County Workforce Development Center hosted a Thanksgiving lunch on Nov. 21 for members of the community in need.

The lunch, consisting of 14 turkeys and heaps of sides, went on from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and fed nearly 200 people.

Students of the Riverside County Culinary Academy, a part of Riverside City College, cooked with food paid for entirely by the staff of the Workforce Development Center.

According to director Kathy Fortner, employees are “blessed by having good jobs and families and they want to give back.”

“It’s fantastic,” said Sam Mass, a homeless man, who found out about the lunch through a friend. “A lot of people don’t have any place to go.”

While everyone ate, people from very different lives came together and were thankful.

“It’s the warm feeling you get,” said patron Ron Hicks, adding that “Every day should be Thanksgiving.”

Workforce Development staff drove around the area in vans, shuttling mostly men, but women and children as well, from shelters and parks. After lunch the shuttles filled again, returning people home, loaded up with leftovers and clothing donated by the staff.

Brett Baker, from Fairmount Park, had seconds…twice. An event like this “raises everyone’s self esteem,” he said. “They don’t need a hand out, they need a hand up.”

This tradition, initiated seven years ago by members of the Workforce Development Center, has expanded to serve greater numbers of disadvantaged people city-wide.

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