Staying Strong

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Malibu locals, family, friends, first responders, Pepperdine students, staff and more gather together for a community Thanksgiving fest in the cafeteria at Pepperdine University, uniting as one after the effects of the Woolsey Fire.

Community members from all corners of Malibu came together to provide a classic Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds on Thanksgiving Day—including those who just lost homes in the Woolsey Fire, members of Malibu’s longterm homeless community, first responders, Pepperdine students and local displaced families.

For decades, Malibu United Methodist Church has provided a Thanksgiving meal to area homeless people, alongside those with no where else to go for the holiday. This year, those efforts multiplied, with the help of the City of Malibu, Malibu Chamber of Commerce, Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue and Pepperdine University—not to mention dozens of volunteers and community leaders who flocked to Pepperdine on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 22. The Malibu Strong Community Thanksgiving meal served up good food, plus clothes, toiletries, books and gifts, to hundreds.

One key organizer was Kay Gabbard, who explained in an email this was the 22nd Thanksgiving meal prepared by Malibu United Methodist.

“This year, teaming up with Pepperdine brought together a wonderfully diverse group of folks who came to celebrate and give thanks for what we have, for those who continue to work to make us strong and healthy again, for,what the community has been through and to acknowledge what we may have lost,” Gabbard said. “A lot of old and new friends connected, stories were shared and tears were shed. The most difficult part was finding a job for everyone who wanted to volunteer to give back and say thanks.”

One of those volunteers was 12-year-old Malibuite Harlow Rocca.

“I wanted to get involved and help my community because our family feels very lucky that we did not lose our home,” Rocca said. “I was honored to have the opportunity to help others because I love Malibu and I felt terrible that so many people lost so much.”

Rocca, alongside other volunteers, gathered clothing and toys to give away at the feast.

State Senator Henry Stern, himself a Malibu native, and City Council Member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner spread messages of hope between musical acts—including Annie Bosko, Miss Bix and Cantor Marcelo Gindlin from the Malibu Jewish Center. Volunteers from Pepperdine, Malibu Methodist, Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, MJCS and others served food in two long lines, feeding hundreds of people, young and old.