On Wednesday, November 25, 2015, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., St. Monica Catholic Community will host its 36th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner for an expected 1000 guests. Served family-style, the dinner is an uplifting event especially for those in need, but all are welcome to join us including children of all ages! The dinner is followed by a boutique with free items of clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, and toiletries.
Please note: Quantities in the boutique are limited and are distributed first-come, first-served.
This great tradition at St. Monica brings together every grade in our schools, every ministry in the parish, neighbors, dozens of household and restaurant kitchens, and hundreds of volunteers to feed and clothe men and women who need an extra lift for the holidays.
As a community we feel strongly that everyone be able to enjoy this most sacred of American holidays. Partaking in our dinner at St. Monica may be their only opportunity to sit down at a holiday meal or opportunity to pick up a clothing item that will protect them from the elements this winter season. To prepare for our guests, we welcome donations, volunteers, and especially your prayers!
The dinner is served in Cantwell Auditorium on the St. Monica campus; Entrance is accessible from the corner of 7th Street and Washington Blvd.
We need approximately 700 volunteers to help plan and shop, set up, prepare, cook and serve, collect and distribute, and clean up. A majority of our volunteer positions are for the day of the event; we also have volunteer positions for days and evenings prior to the event.
How to sign up
Volunteers must sign up in person and can do so during the weekends of November 7-8, 14-15, and 21-22 in the Duval Center after all Masses. We do not accept sign ups over the phone or by email, as policies mandated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles require us to meet face to face with all volunteers before the event.
When you sign up, you will be able to view a list of all positions and receive guidelines and the location of your service. Prior to your shift, please review the General Instructions for Confirmed Volunteers.
Volunteers will also receive an email and/or phone call from their team lead a few days before the event with any special instructions, so please make sure numbers and emails are accurate.
Please note: Some positions may require VIRTUS Certification and Fingerprinting (mandated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles).
Beginning November 1, all donations including food and items for the boutique (except turkeys and pies*) can be dropped off to the bins in the Duval Center during any weekend through November 22. During the week, donations can be left in the Parish Office during regular business hours. See below for what we need:
Perishable Food Items
120 Cooked Turkeys
200 Cooked Pumpkin Pies (8 or 9 inches round)
*All turkeys and pies must be delivered the morning of Wednesday, November 25 between 6 am and noon. Enter on California and follow signs for drop off.
Non Perishable Food Items
1200 servings of the following:
We accept any size and in any quantity
We also accept cash donations to purchase large-quantity items such as milk and bread and other necessary items for the dinner and clothing boutique that are not donated. Make your gift online or leave a check made payable to St. Monica Catholic Church at the Parish Office, attn: Delis Alejandro.
Clothing Boutique Items
We need the following for men, women and children, with particular emphasis on cold weather clothing for winter:
Please note: We will accept any clothing donated in all sizes, however all items must be clean. We have a particular need for extra large sizes e.g. 2xx, 3xx and tall sizes. The majority of our guests are men who spend a lot of time outside. We could also use donations of hangers and plastic or cloth bags.
Travel-size Toiletry Donations
We need completed care kits (one gallon Ziploc bags with travel-size toiletries) for our guests with one each of the following:
Do not include razors, razor blades, tweezers, safety pins, money, or personal info.
1. When and where is the dinner?
Each year, the dinner is held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. In 2015 the dinner will be held on Wednesday, November 25, from 3-6 pm in Cantwell Auditorium, located on the St. Monica Campus. The church address is 725 California Avenue in Santa Monica.
2. Who can come to the dinner?
Adults and children of all ages. All are welcome!
3. Do I need a ticket or need to reserve a space?
No. You do not need a ticket or reserve a space for dinner. Just come anytime between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.
4. When and where should I get in line?
You can arrive anytime you wish. However, if you arrive several hours before the event starts at 3:00 p.m. you will be given a numbered ticket, allowing you to leave and return closer to 3:00 p.m. without losing your place in line. The time we will start handing out numbered tickets will be listed in the fall.
5. Do you provide Thanksgiving Dinners for people who are homebound, because of illness or mobility challenges?
Yes. We happily deliver Thanksgiving Dinner baskets to people who are homebound. If you know of anyone who would enjoy a meal delivered to their door, please contact Christine Gerety at or (310) 566-1531 by Sunday, November 22, and provide the recipient’s name, address, and phone number.
6. Where should I park?
Until early afternoon, we have free underground parking under the Caruso Community Center located on the corner of 7th and California Avenue. There is also parking available in the lot located at 1401 7th Street and on the streets. Please read the street signs for parking restrictions. We encourage carpooling when possible. We also have several bike racks available on site.
7. Are there any buses that have stops nearby?
The Santa Monica Blue Bus line has stops for the number 2, 3 and 9 busses all within one block or a block and a half of the dinner.
8. Is my donation tax- deductible?
Yes. All donations are tax-deductible. You can get a tax receipt when you donate throughout the month of November in the Duval Center or in the Parish Office. You can also pick up a tax receipt on the day of the event.
9. How do I sign up to volunteer?
We only accept sign ups in person. Please refer to the volunteer tab for instructions. If there is a specific job for which you'd like to volunteer, please ask for assistance at the sign-up table. Because of the large number of people who want to volunteer for this event, job availability is on a first-come, first-served basis.
10. Can I sign up a friend or family member?
Yes, but you are responsible for communicating all volunteer-related information to him or her, including the required VIRTUS acknowledgement requirement. Groups larger than 4 who want to volunteer together in the same job are limited to jobs in the Boutique only (pending availability).
11. Can I just show up to help?
No. Because of the size of the event, we cannot accommodate any walk-in volunteers. You must have an assigned position.
12. Can I sign up for a partial shift?
No. We can only accommodate full-shift duties. No exceptions.
13. Are there any volunteer jobs available that my elderly parent or friend could do while sitting?
We have a handful of volunteer jobs available to help with homebound delivery baskets.
14. What If I can’t help on the day of the event. Are there other times or other ways I can volunteer?
We have several times other than the day of the event as well as a variety of ways you can help!
15. What is the youngest age to volunteer?
Please note: All volunteer jobs are on a first-come, first-served basis and require availability to accommodate both the guardian and child/children.
16. My son/daughter attends St. Monica Catholic High School. Can I volunteer with him/her?
Our students sign up through the campus ministers at the high school for jobs that are specifically designed for teens. We don't have jobs where parents and students can sign up together.
17. Can students at St. Monica get credit towards their community service requirement for volunteering at this event?
Yes. The campus ministers at the high school can provide you with details.
18. Do I have to sign the VIRTUS acknowledgment?
Yes. On the day of the event, we cannot allow you to volunteer unless you sign the VIRTUS acknowledgment when you check in. You must read and confirm that you understand the information at www.stmonica.net/safety
19. Can I sign up for more than one shift?
Yes, but you must be able to fulfill the entire shift for each job, i.e. you cannot leave one shift early to make it on time for the other.
20. Do you have volunteer opportunities for those who have special needs?
Yes. Children and adults who may have special needs can sign up for jobs in Kids Crafts, Turkey Carving, Food Receiving, and Boutique prep, however, they must be accompanied by an adult. Please note that all jobs are first-come, first-served and require availability to accommodate both the guardian and the special needs child or adult.
21. What if my plans change and I cannot fill the job for which I signed up for?
22. Can the press come and take photos?
All members of the press are invited to attend, however, no photos or videos of our guests are allowed out of respect for their privacy You must contact our communications director prior to the event. Call the parish office at (310) 566-1500.
23. Can volunteers eat dinner with the other guests?
Yes. Once your shift is over, you can join the line and have dinner alongside our guests. You can also join other volunteers for food and fellowship after your shift in the volunteer lounge.
24. Can I bring a friend or out-of-town family member with me when I volunteer on the day of the event?
No. Only if they have signed up in advance.
25. Are there other places that serve a free Thanksgiving dinner on the Westside other than St. Monica?
Yes. Go to or contact 310-394-3153 about the Westside Thanksgiving Dinner & Celebration that is held annually on Thanksgiving Day.
26. Where else can I volunteer during Thanksgiving or the holidays?
At St. Monica, you can volunteer and/donate for the following:
In the community, there is an alliance called Westside Coalition that consists of over 35 organizations, public agencies and faith communities committed to ending hunger and homelessness through service coordination, public education and advocacy. The Westside Coalition connects potential volunteers to agencies that need them. For more information, go to http://www.westsideshelter.org/volunteer-sign-up.html
27. Where can I go if I need help?
This is not an exhaustive list but a good place to start.