Volunteer Adrianna Rodriguez, left, and staff member Guillermina Torres wrap food baskets at Luz Social Services. The baskets are part of a raffle.


Two Tucson nonprofits are still low on a few staples for their Thanksgiving feasts, but the agencies, which cook free holiday meals for those in need, already are looking ahead to Christmas.

The Luz Southside Coalition is having its 14th Thanksgiving in the Barrio on Tuesday at El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, and the Salvation Army will celebrate its 28th Community Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.

If promised donations come through this weekend, both will be well-stocked with turkeys for Thanksgiving; however, each still needs side dishes and ingredients.

The Luz Southside Coalition, which expects to feed 2,000 low-income residents on the south side, needs canned vegetables to serve alongside the bird of honor.

The Salvation Army, which anticipates a crowd of 4,000, needs flour, brown sugar, heat-and-serve dinner rolls, milk, eggs, frozen pies and whipped cream or topping.

Any extra frozen, canned or boxed foods donated to the organizations will be used to prepare holiday meals in December.

The Luz Southside Coalition Christmas party is slated for Dec. 12, barely enough time to regroup after Thanksgiving, said Mary Ornelas, coalition program manager. Volunteers have the added pressure of collecting toys as well as gathering food for the dinner at El Pueblo.

Last year an unprecedented 600 children attended the party, and volunteers did not have enough Christmas gifts.

"The staff here was in tears because we were so sad to turn some of those kids away," Ornelas said. "We never anticipated so many kids."

The Salvation Army met its goal of 500 turkeys for Thanksgiving, but Ashley Leuders, spokeswoman for the nonprofit, said it will need an equal number next month.

"Once this Thanksgiving dinner is done, we only have a few weeks to prepare for Christmas dinner," she said.

There are some donations, however, that the Salvation Army cannot use. Often during Thanksgiving or Christmas week supporters drop off homemade desserts and side dishes, but health department regulations prohibit the organization from serving the made-from-scratch dishes, Leuders said. Instead, frozen, prepackaged or canned is the way to go.

How To Help

The Luz Southside Coalition and the Salvation Army each still need some essentials to serve at their free community Thanksgiving meals next week, and both nonprofits are thinking ahead to what they will need for their Christmas dinners.

• Luz Southside Coalition needs canned vegetables to complete its 14th Thanksgiving in the Barrio. Organizers also are seeking donations of food and toys for its Christmas party. Donations can be dropped off at Luz Social Services, 2797 N. Cerrada de Beto (formerly 2797 N. Introspect Drive.) The nonprofit can also pick up donations.

• On Monday beginning at 5:15 p.m., organizers of Meet Me at Maynards, a weekly noncompetitive, family-friendly walk downtown, will collect frozen, prepackaged and canned foods for the Luz holiday dinners, as well as toys for children from newborns to 12 years old. The group meets outside the Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. (north entrance on Toole Avenue). For more information about the Luz Southside Coalition, call 388-4574.

• The Salvation Army needs flour, brown sugar, heat-and-serve dinner rolls, milk, eggs, frozen pies and whipped cream or topping for its Thanksgiving dinner, as well as food donations for the Christmas feast. Donations can be left at the Salvation Army, 1001 N. Richey Blvd., and the Hospitality House, 1021 N. 11th Ave. For more information, go to www.TheSalvationArmyTucson.org or call 795-9671.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.