Date: November 15, 2017


SANTA ANA, Calif. – OC GRIP will award Thanksgiving turkey dinners today to 875 at-risk students who succeeded in Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership’s (OC GRIP) 8th annual Thanksgiving challenge to improve students’ attendance, behavior, and grades in time for the holidays.

This year, Ralphs/Food 4 Less generously donated over 875 turkey dinners, valued over $25,000, as part of the ongoing OC GRIP gang prevention effort to keep kids in school and out of gangs. OC GRIP extended the incentive to students at 55 schools throughout the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Mission Viejo, Orange, Santa Ana, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, and Tustin. The terms of the challenge were determined by each school and included no gang activity or clothing, improved attendance, no disciplinary action, and improved grades. All of the students are in grades four through eight and were individually identified by their respective schools as being the most at-risk of joining a criminal street gang.

Each dinner contains a full Thanksgiving meal, including a turkey and side dishes, to feed a family of 10. Volunteers from Saddleback Church packed and personally delivered the dinners to participating GRIP schools. The turkey dinners will be distributed to students and their families from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. today at Yorba Middle School in Orange by police officers, deputies, investigators, probation officers, and staff from OC GRIP agencies, including District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Orange Police Department (OPD) Chief Tom Kisela, Chief Deputy Probation Officer Chris Bieber, and Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) Undersheriff Don Barnes.

To watch a video from yesterday’s turkey packing event, click here For information on date, time, and the address of the turkey distribution event today, please click here.

Media interested in attending may contact Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Spokesperson Michelle Van Der Linden at (714) 323-4486.

“Thanksgiving is the purest of the holidays that is focused on sharing gratitude and food between family and friends,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “Thanks to the generosity of Ralph’s/Food 4 Less, Saddleback Church, and the law enforcement partners of OC GRIP, families will be able to acknowledge good choices made by at-risk youths and give thanks to all of the positives in life.”

“We are proud to once again partner with the OCDA and the GRIP Program to make the holidays a little brighter for some very deserving students,” said Vanessa Rosales, Director of Corporate Affairs for Food 4 Less and Ralphs. “Partnering with local law enforcement to help reinforce community programs in the areas where we work and live is a win for all parties involved.”

OCSD Undersheriff Barnes stated, “Choosing a positive life path isn’t always the easiest or most convenient decision. It takes integrity, leadership and character. OC GRIP inspires these qualities in our local at-risk youth, and we were honored to reward and acknowledge students who choose every day to work toward their positive life goals.”

“The Orange Police Department is proud to partner with the Orange County GRIP program and be part of the turkey incentive. OC GRIP has proven to be an effective program in improving school attendance and reducing gang participation. Through our partnerships, the turkey incentive was created to provide a Thanksgiving dinner to those students who showed determination by achieving their goals,” remarked OPD Chief Tom Kisela.

Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren commented, “Saddleback Church is honored to participate with the Orange County District Attorney and Ralphs/Food 4 Less with GRIP in such an effective and transformative event.  We appreciate and are grateful to be able to support and provide hope to at risk children and their families across Orange County.”