Long Beach community coming together on Thanksgiving

Swingbelly’s, LBSA, Skudin Surf and others to provide holiday meals for local families


Although the power was turned on in most parts of the city over the last week, there are still many residents who are displaced because their homes are uninhabitable or remain without power and hot water.

But the outpour of support for Long Beach residents since Hurricane Sandy hit more than two weeks ago has been remarkable, city officials and locals said, and a number of organizations and businesses are coming together to make sure that families in need receive support from their community during the holidays.

Among them is Swingbelly’s, the popular West End barbecue restaurant, that has teamed up with the Long Beach Surfer’s Association, Skudin Surf and the non-profit organization Surf for All, among others, to launch an “emergency relief” effort to provide Thanksgiving dinners for at least 100 Long Beach families on Thursday.

“Normally, we sell turkeys for Thanksgiving,” said Kelly Sullivan, whose husband, Sean, owns Swingbelly’s. “But after the hurricane, we said, ‘Why don’t we raise money online and try to feed 100 families in the West End?’ That was the original plan. We created this website, www.crowdrise.com, and we set the goal at $10,000 thinking we would get just $2,000. But we raised $10,000 in 24 hours.”

Sullivan said that the initiative has attracted corporate sponsorships as well and the attention of local community groups. The effort has since grown and more donations and volunteers are needed.

“We’re going to do a community Thanksgiving dinner at the Ice Arena, all are welcome and we’ll have food for everybody,” Sullivan said.

Meals will be served outside the City of Long Beach Ice Arena, located at 150 West Bay Dr., in heated tents starting at 11 a.m. and go on until food runs out or there are no more people to serve. Those interested in volunteering should look for volunteers in bright shirts that read, “Ask Me How to Volunteer.” There will be two shifts for volunteers — the first shift will be at 9:30 a.m. and the second at 1 p.m.

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