Union Station Foundation served over 4,500 meals this year at its annual Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park, held at Central Park in Pasadena on Thanksgiving Day. Once labeled “the biggest potluck in the nation” by the media, this event brought a hearty meal and holiday cheer to all in attendance, many of whom were homeless, senior citizens and families on limited incomes.
The success of Union Station’s Dinners-in-the-Park relies largely on the donations of prepared food delivered to the park on Thanksgiving Day. “For over twenty five years, we have counted on our faithful supporters to bring cooked turkeys and hams, side dishes and desserts,” said Louis Fontenot, Union Station’s Director of Volunteer Services, “and they never let us down. It is truly remarkable to see people’s generosity around the Holiday Season.” Cars began lining Fair Oaks Avenue before 9:00 AM with their deliveries of food. “We always prepare some food in Union Station’s kitchen in case we don’t receive enough donations to feed everybody who comes,” said Fontenot. “Generally we run low on some side dishes, but as always, there was food leftover to send with people.”
Pasadena resident and Occidental College administrator Cecilia Fox and her daughter Amanda brought their first turkey to Union Station’s Dinner-in-the-Park over ten years ago – and have done so every year since. “If I am preparing Thanksgiving dinner for twenty guests at my house, I always cook enough for an additional twenty and take it to the park,” said Cecilia. “This event means a great deal to our family because when we participate, we receive so much more than we give. It is truly gratifying to see people of all backgrounds and walks of life unite as a community and focus on what we have in common, not the differences that divide us. As long as we spend our Thanksgiving in Pasadena, we would not miss Dinner-in-the-Park for the world.”
Union Station will also host Christmas Dinner-in-the-Park, which serves over 3,000 meals and provides new toys and gifts to over 800 children and teenagers. In addition to food donations, Union Station is accepting financial contributions to offset the costs of both events. Donations may be sent payable to Union Station Foundation, 412 S. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105.
For further information about Dinner-in-the-Park and Union Station’s year-round programs and services for the poor and homeless, please visit their website at www.unionstationhs.org or call 626.449.4596.
Union Station is the San Gabriel Valley’s largest private agency serving the poor and homeless, providing more than 110,000 meals and nearly 21,000 nights of shelter per year. Union Station’s supportive services include career development and job placement, community healthcare, case management services, 12-step meetings, legal assistance, transitional housing and special programs for homeless families. More than 70% of Union Station clients have found stable housing after their stay with the agency.