ANAHEIM, Calif. - At-risk kids who achieved success in a gang-prevention program in Orange County received a special Thanksgiving reward.
Anaheim police officers made a series of special deliveries Tuesday night. Officers, volunteers, teachers and administrators took a full Thanksgiving meal to kids between fourth and eighth grade, who earned it through the Gang Reduction Intervention Program (GRIP).
"Students at six schools, where GRIP has a presence, have been participating in a challenge to earn a free Thanksgiving dinner for their family of up to 10 people," said Kristina Hamm, a spokesperson for Anaheim police.
GRIP helps at-risk youth stay out of trouble and on the right path. The meals are courtesy of Anaheim First Christian Church, the Anaheim Police Department's Chief's Advisory Board and Walmart.
They teamed with non-profit Wayfinders for the seventh annual Operation Turkey Leg challenge.
Wayfinders provides case management services to this law-enforcement led partnership in Anaheim, whose mission is to implement an evidence-based, collaborative approach to gang prevention, education, community building and intervention and suppression activities to children and their families, who are at risk of gang involvement, truancy, school dropout and juvenile delinquency.
Also, Wayfinders provides school-based violence reduction programming and community safety training that encourages character and leadership development and engages parents to access resources to overcome barriers, gang reduction, establishing communication networks with other parents, the school and the police.
"We support them throughout the six weeks by meeting with them, encouraging them and letting their teachers know so they can encourage them in the classroom as well," said Lolly Domond from Wayfinders.
For six weeks, 90 Anaheim students from fourth to eighth grade met the challenge, and kids like fourth-grader Emmanuel Munoz received their reward.
"You came to school every day, you were respectful, you earned your grades and you were always such a good helper," one of Emmanuel's teachers told him.
Emmanuel beamed with pride as officers handed his family the turkey and all the fixings in recognition of the 9-year-old's hard work.
"It's so exciting because I get to get it, all the food," he said.