CSULB frat is breaking bread

Turkey day is fast approaching, and one Cal State Long Beach fraternity is aiming to spread traditional holiday meals to even more dinner tables in the community this year.

Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. organizes the annual Thanksgiving Outreach Program, through which volunteers raise money to purchase Thanksgiving meals for underprivileged families.

Volunteers do not have to be members of the fraternity to lend a helping hand. Non-Greeks, including students, friends, family and members of the local community, are welcome to contribute, according to David Morales, chapter vice president for Lambda Theta Phi and director of the 2012 Outreach.

Volunteers can participate in three ways: distributing meal applications to low-income families, donating money to help purchase the meals and delivering the meals to the families on Thanksgiving eve, Morales said.

According to Morales, delivering the meals is a special part of the program because volunteers get a glimpse at the direct impact the event has on those in need.

“The experience is very humbling, as many of these families live in very difficult economic conditions,” Morales said. “They are very appreciative of the meal they receive.”

Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority Inc. Tau Chapter President Elva Pena, who has participated twice as a driver for the program, said the experience reminds a person to be thankful for what he or she has and to always remember to give back.

“For that one day, [the family has] the comfort of knowing someone cared and that there is someone who is there for them,” Pena said.

CSULB alumnus Samuel Aguilar introduced the idea for the Thanksgiving Outreach program in 1999, stemming from an experience he had endured as a child.

Aguilar said that he and his two sisters were raised by a single mother with limited finances. One year, a local grocery store provided his family with food for the holidays.

“The sponsorship was greatly appreciated by my family,” Aguilar said. “I thought if ever given the opportunity to help another family during the holidays, I would.”

In 1999, the program sponsored eight families. Last year, Lambda Theta Phi was able to provide meals to 305 families, the highest total in the program’s 13-year history, according to Morales.

“The night before Thanksgiving, nearly 100 volunteer drivers met up in the structure by the Pyramid to help deliver these meals,” Morales said.

Each meal costs $60 and is large enough to feed a family of 10. Last year, the fraternity received more than 400 applications from families hoping to be sponsored, according to Morales.

“The goal this year is to turn away as few families as possible,” Morales said.

Volunteers will meet outside the Pyramid at 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 21 to deliver the Thanksgiving meals to the families selected.

Students interested in participating in the 2012 Thanksgiving outreach can visit for more information.


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