By Chris O’Neal/VC Reporter – November 14, 2018
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Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, Nov. 22, and as families gather in celebration and reunion, for those less fortunate than others, there is hope for a happy holiday.
From noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21, the Ventura County Rescue Mission will host its annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet where it expects over 1,000 guests who will be treated to a Thanksgiving style dinner, making it the largest of its kind in the county.
Ventura County Rescue Mission Director John E. Saltee says that he expects near to 250 volunteers will assist the day of, serving meals to the less fortunate. The Rescue Mission has on site a professional kitchen capable of producing thousands of meals, some of which are sent to the Mission’s other locations in Los Angeles.
“Our volunteers are the backbone of this ministry because if we had to pay minimum wage we’d pay over $1 million a year,” said Saltee. “We have over 400 active volunteers a month.”Saltee says that volunteers are what make the day, and the Mission itself, successful.
Serving up meals will be local dignitaries including Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn and Eric Harrison, President and CEO of United Way of Ventura County, to name just a few.
The banquet is an at least 25 year old tradition. Saltee says that the event will feed those without homes, the very poor who have difficulty “making ends meet.” The Lighthouse for Women & Children, which the Mission also oversees, will be joining the banquet as well.
“We become their family for that day,” said Saltee. “We’ve never turned anyone away, we always have tables in reserve and we’ll take as many as we can possibly fit.”