By Gary Kohatsu
It’s November and Thanksgiving is around the corner. Some families, especially in the year of the novel coronavirus, fear the harsh times ahead.
Assistance for the holidays might be challenging.
But for 250 families in the Gardena and Carson communities, their Thanksgiving will be brighter thanks to the Rotary Club of Carson-Gardena-Dominguez and Operation Gobble.
Rotarian Glenn Mitchell is doing as he does every year, preparing to gather food that will be placed in boxes for the needy families.
“We don’t know who (the receiving families) are,” Mitchell said by phone last week. “The social services departments from both Carson and Gardena or the school districts find the families. We just allocate; they (social services) tells us how many boxes are needed and we fill the order.”
Food boxes will be assembled and distributed on Thursday, Nov. 19 in the parking area behind the Doubletree by Hilton in the city of Carson.
About 40 volunteers will take part on Nov. 19, comprised of C-G-D Rotarians, school district workers and others, Mitchell said.
Each food box will contain a turkey from Golden State Water Co., gravy, a 10-pound bag of potatoes, green beans, peas, corn, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, a 3-pound of rice, dinner rolls, butter, Kraft mac & cheese, butter, aluminum pan and foil.
“My attitude is if I will not buy it for my family, I will not give it to a needy family,” Mitchell said. “All canned vegetables are premium brand. We do not give low cost/quality store brand canned vegetables. Dinner rolls are fresh, made the night before. Turkey’s are frozen and in a Golden State grocery bag.”
Mitchell, who organizes the packing day, said he gets up at 6 a.m. to pick up some food items with truck loaned by MB Nursery in Carson, with the actual packing process starting at 8 a.m.
The entire project takes about two hours, he said.
“We set up in segments,” Mitchell said. “Corn here, peas there — we assign people to handle only one food item. We work in two-man teams. One carries and one loads in box. The GS water guy said we are the most efficient organization he has seen.”
Mitchell has been a Rotarian for 42 years, first with the Gardena club. In 2006, the Gardena Club merged with the Carson Club to form the Carson-Gardena-Dominguez Rotary Club.
He was part of the Thanksgiving Operation Gobble with the Gardena Club in the early ‘90s.
“There’s a lot of families in need out there,” Mitchell said. “We try to help as many as we can. (Our Rotary Club) can step up when the community does.”
With the pandemic, Mitchell said the club decided to increase the number of families to feed from 200 to 250.
“Our goal was 250 from the getgo,” he said. “There are a lot of (essential) businesses that never stopped working and they have stepped up with donations”
Mitchell has also served as the Rotary District 5280’s Sergeant-of-Arms for the past five years.
He is tasked with ensuring that district events are “ready to go.”
“I have a crew of three to six people and we monitor things, such as who has paid for their tickets, setting up banners, flags and everything else is ready to go.”
Mitchell has dedicated much of his life to charity work in his community. He said that in his life, when he was in need there have been people who have helped him succeed.
“I have been blessed in my life,” Mitchell said. “My philosophy is, you cannot accept help from somebody if you are not willing to help somebody else.”
He also gives credit to those who have helped the 250 families this year.
Donors are Brentwood Originals, California Nozzle Specialists, Inc., California Water Service, Doubletree by Hilton, District grant, Gardena Jewelry and Loan, Golden State Water Co. (turkeys and $2,500 donation), L&M Enterprises, MB Landscaping & Nursery, Inc., Naders Furniture, TLC Safety Consultants, Inc., Fresno and Watson Land Co.