Malibu readies to give thanks, offer help

Malibu United Methodist Church will host its 12th annual Thanksgiving Dinner for families in need at the church on Thanksgiving Day. Pictured, last year's dinner at the church.

On Oct. 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln made the Thanksgiving proclamation, citing that, although the country was in the midst of a Civil War, the year had been filled with “blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies” and that “Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship,” and the enlargement of settlement borders and mining of iron, coal and metals “have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.” He then invited the American people, as well as people of “foreign lands,” to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving.

This week and next in Malibu, residents, clergy and city leaders will come together to do just that, and going even beyond, with food and clothing drives, interfaith services and meals prepared for the needy. Here are some local efforts.

Malibu Presbyterian Church is hosting its 13th annual Thanksgiving Food Drive in front of Ralphs grocery store in Malibu Colony Plaza, Nov. 20-22, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The drive was successful in raising enough food to feed 500 families last year, including 225 turkeys, said Dick Joy, who is in charge of running this year’s drive.

“The generosity of people here is unbelievable,” Joy said. “We’re just glad we can do something for other people.”

This year, donated items will be passed on to both a Baptist Church in the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles and Cloud and Fire Ministries, located in the San Fernando Valley, which provides programming and services for at-risk urban youth.

Last year the Compton church distributed Malibu’s donations to between 300 and 400 people, Joy said.

People who walk by the food drive table outside Ralph’s will be given a list of needed items, both food and general goods. They buy the items along with their regular groceries and bring them out to food drive volunteers. At last year’s food drive, Ralph’s gave away turkeys to customers donating at least $75 in goods to the drive, but Joy said he was not sure what the store would be doing this year.

Malibu Presbyterian, along with nine other Malibu religious organizations, will also be participating in an Interfaith Community Service on Thanksgiving Day at 10 a.m. The service, involving Calvary Chapel Malibu, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue, Malibu Presbyterian Church, Malibu United Methodist Church, Olivet Foursquare Church, Our Lady of Malibu Catholic Church, University Church of Christ at Pepperdine and Waveside Church, will take place at the University Church of Christ at Pepperdine.

Following the service, Malibu United Methodist Church will host its 12th annual Thanksgiving Dinner for families in need at the church on Morning View Drive. From 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., laborers from Malibu Labor Exchange and people without homes and in need will be served, while youth from juvenile detention center Camp Kilpatrick will follow from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Last year, Malibu United Methodist served roughly 200 people in need, in addition to 100 youth from Camp Kilpatrick, said church Office Administrator Kat Meyer Smith, who is helping put on the dinner.

Each dinner guest will receive a toiletries bag that includes personal care items, like soap, toothbrush and paste, and sunscreen. Donations for the dinner and toiletry bags are taken at Malibu area elementary schools, Juan Cabrillo, Webster and Point Dume, as well as at the church. Volunteers will also help set up for the dinner, put together amenities bags, serve food and drinks and clean up, in addition to donating food items for the dinner.

“We have received some donations so far, but could still use donations all the way around. We’re only a quarter of the way there on the food,” said Meyer Smith, who added that they have not received any childcare items, such as diapers, which they try to provide for guests.

New this year will be an Angel Tree in the Malibu Country Mart, sponsored by Waveside Church, a new church in Malibu, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 9. Residents can stop by the park area near Taverna Tony’s Restaurant, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, to pick up an “angel.” A list of needed items, primarily clothing, in addition to a desired Christmas gift, will be included on the list, and can be brought back to Angel Tree volunteers until Dec. 9. The gifts will then be brought to the Salvation Army in Santa Monica for families and children who use their services.

“This is the closest thing we could find to help kids in need at Christmastime and the holiday season,” said Pastor Dave Dowler of Waveside, about the first year of the Angel Tree.

More information about donations or volunteering for the Thanksgiving community service activities listed above can be obtained by calling Malibu Presbyterian Church at 310.456.1611, Malibu United Methodist Church at 310.457.7505 and 310.589.1964, and Waveside Church about the Angel Tree at 310.774.1927.