Now, Souza feels called upon to offer a full, free Thanksgiving dinner to the community, an undertaking she has never done before, on Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. at the parish hall, 7669 Girard Ave.
“I talked to my husband who said, ‘I feel like I’ve given enough of you up already,’” Souza said.
Her husband later came to her and said, “Let’s do it.”
The dinner intends to reach out to people whose families are far away, the homeless, as well as to draw the community together for a communal feast.
Souza expects about 300 people to show up to eat, and needs at least 100 volunteers — who are also welcome to partake in the meal — to prepare the feast, serve the food and clean up. Prep cooks are needed from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and servers are needed from 1 to 4 p.m. Pie aficionados are invited to join a pie-baking party on Wednesday evening at the parish hall (time to be announced).
Donations of all the ingredients needed to create a Thanksgiving dinner are required: stuffing mix, red potatoes, chicken broth, celery, gravy, garlic, cranberry sauce, mixed salad and dressing, milk, juice, tea and coffee.
The homeless are also in need of twin-size blankets, shoes and socks, and winter jackets. Souza recalled one Tuesday evening when former District 3 Councilmember Toni Atkins volunteered to serve food and, upon hearing about the need for blankets, brought one out from her car.
“She went to her car and brought out this beautiful blanket,” Souza said. “I was really moved.”
Souza said people come for the Tuesday night dinners via foot, bus and car from all over San Diego — and it’s not just the homeless.
“A lot of people come who have homes but don’t have enough money to put food on the table,” Souza said. “Times are really tough.”
Souza doesn’t believe the dinners are drawing more homeless to the area, however.
“They eat and they leave,” Souza said. “I never see them stay.”
Tuesday night dinners have also attracted La Jolla teenagers who need community service credit but they keep coming back, Souza said.
“I wanted my kids to see what is truly out there and fill them with compassion for people instead of a sense of entitlement,” Souza said. “Not everyone drives BMWs or wears Frankie B jeans.”
Donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., preferably the week before Thanksgiving, at Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 7669 Girard Ave.
Financial donations can be made to the nonprofit So Others May Eat Inc., c/o Tresha Souza, 1223 Muirlands Vista Way, La Jolla, CA 92037. Info: (858) 414-8281.