Hundreds line up for holiday help in Oakland

November 24, 2009 1:32:16 PM PST
The fragile economy is prompting thousands of people to ask for help this holiday season. An event at the Marriot Hotel in Oakland Tuesday may turn out to be the biggest Thanksgiving dinner in the East Bay this year.

There were worries that organizers might not be able to serve everyone in the line, which was longer than it was last year. Also compounding the problem was the fact that contributions and donations for the event were just not there.

Leticia Keys and her seven children waited in the line that gets longer each year. For her, the reason for being there was simple.

"I need. You know? I need," she told ABC7. "Can y'all help me?"

Her 7-year-old daughter Sundajia also shared her Thanksgiving week thoughts saying, "Like, thinking about Thanksgiving, how it's going to be... Happy."

Awaiting them inside was a meal fit for a king or the CEO of a large corporation, many of whom have been served at the Marriott by Chef Michael Wolf.

"They'll take four slices of this, put it on a plate, sauce over that, corn with peppers, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie and green salad with Italian dressing, rolls, butter, you name it," he said listing off the menu.

There is a growing need for help like this during the holidays, but it is a demand that cannot be met.

"Unfortunately, with the way the economy is, we can only afford to care for 2,000 people," said event planner Gesunda Royal-Shipp. "But, I'm hoping, I know that Susan Shelton, our manager for the department, is hoping that going forward we'll be able to get more donations and sponsors so we can do more."

In the end, more than 2000 people will have enjoyed about 800 pounds of turkey, 350 pounds of ham, 380 pounds of salad and a whole lot of joy.

Gesunda Royal-Shipp warmly called the event her "favorite day of the year, next to Christmas,

"This is once a year we can really, God, feel good," said Wolf.

It cost only $12.63 to put each of the Thanksgiving meals on the table, but organizers were still not able to help everyone in line. Oakland Human Services organized the event and they are still in need of donations and volunteers. Sign up to volunteer here.


Load Comments