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Outlook bleak for turkey dinner in Compton

November 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Economic experts predict Americans will spend more this holiday season than last year.The forecast comes as the Salvation Army in Compton is struggling to fill requests for Thanksgiving dinners for the needy.

Ever since Patricia Torres was laid off as a security guard two years ago, she and her two children have been scraping by on her mother's Social Security income.

"We take it day by day and I keep going out to look for a job," Torres said. "My kids, they ask me for so much stuff and sometimes I just can't. I tell them OK, later."

Relief was in sight when Torres signed up to receive a free turkey dinner from the Compton Salvation Army this Thanksgiving.

But directors said they'll be lucky if they can help at least one family.

Every year, Compton Salvation Army feeds about 150 families during Thanksgiving. This year, more than 500 families have signed up for their turkey giveaway.

But with Thanksgiving approaching, their pantry is nearly empty and their freezer has only one turkey.

"We just have a little bit over 500 families and people just keep applying," said Capt. Ezekiel Guevara of the Compton Salvation Army. "Because we don't have the food that we can supply, we have to turn them down."

While other Salvation Army locations are expected to meet the need this holiday season, Guevara said the normally dire situation in Compton has gotten worse.

"It's between paying the rent, paying utilities or buying food," Guevara said.

Organizers said 500 families will have to go without a Thanksgiving meal this year unless they get more donations,

For Torres it would have been nice to have a turkey next week for her children. But she is too busy thinking about Christmas.

"I made an application for a bell ringer at the Salvation Army," Torres said. "Hopefully they'll call me back and that will just be for December. If they do I can buy (my kids) something and a decent meal for Christmas."


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