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Volunteers distribute holiday meals in Costa Mesa as officials stress pandemic caution

The holidays bring an infectious spirit of giving, something that community members have done well to observe for needy families from the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

As Thanksgiving approaches, the Power of One Foundation and more than 70 volunteers worked together to make sure that families would be able to put food on the table to celebrate it.

During Saturday’s Thanksgiving food distribution at the OC Fair & Event Center parking lot in Costa Mesa, more than 1,000 turkeys were given away. Attendees who had not preregistered were still given USDA combo food boxes, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products and protein items.

“Assemblywoman [Cottie] Petrie-Norris helped raise money for our foundation to pay for the turkeys, so they made a dent in what we paid for the turkeys,” Shawnee Witt, the operations director for the Power of One Foundation, said. “We got them wholesale, but we did purchase every turkey that we are giving away for Thanksgiving as a foundation.”

Participants who came through the food distribution lines remarked how quickly they were able to complete the process. More than a dozen volunteer stations were set up, and two lines separated those with appointments from those without them. Witt added that no one got turned away as long as there was still food to hand out.

Rows of vehicles line up at the Power of One Foundation Thanksgiving food giveaway at the O.C. Fair & Event Center.

Rows of vehicles line up at the Power of One Foundation Thanksgiving food giveaway at the OC Fair & Event Center parking lot.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“That was so fast,” said Gabriela Gomez, 17, of Tustin, a senior at Beckman High School after her family received food. “The people were so happy.”

Gabriela added that she was interested in volunteering for similar food giveaways in the future.

Eduardo Iniestra, who uses the stage name DJ Kaboom, dropped beats throughout the event.

He said a friend told him about the Power of One Foundation, and he liked the work they were doing. Iniestra, who has been working with the organization since the summer, said it brings him joy to supply energy for the volunteers.

“A lot of people are struggling,” Iniestra said. “When I saw what they were doing, I really wanted to get involved somehow. It’s just been a beautiful thing to see them put so much effort into feeding the families.”

Stacy Dabbas, 57, of Costa Mesa, a part-time special education aid at Estancia High School, was grateful for the opportunity to get food ahead of the holiday. The virus has impacted her family’s ability to work.

Volunteers help load boxes of food at the Power of One Foundation Thanksgiving food giveaway.

Volunteers help load boxes of food into vehicles at the Power of One Foundation Thanksgiving food giveaway on Saturday.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“The other members of my family are not working thanks to our dear COVID, and so to have this opportunity to come and get a meal that will last several days is such a joy,” Dabbas said. “I am so thankful. I was waving at all the people as I was driving by. It’s wonderful.”

Harley Rouda, the current U.S. representative for the state’s 48th district, came to the event with a mask that read, “In Fauci We Trust.”

Asked about Orange County returning to the purple tier and the accompanying curfew that went into effect on Saturday, Rouda said he believes the decisions are being guided by data and science.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, who also attended the event, warned that gathering can result in spreading the virus and that young people who have been infected are sometimes asymptomatic.

Foley also encouraged people to get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, before getting together with their families for the holidays.

Boxes of food included milk, cheese, chicken patties, potatoes, onions and apples at a Thanksgiving food giveaway.

Boxes of food included milk, cheese, chicken patties, potatoes, onions and apples, at the Power of One Foundation Thanksgiving food giveaway.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“If you get tested, you reduce the risk,” Foley said. “You don’t eliminate the risk, but you reduce it.”

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 11 deaths due to the coronavirus and 806 new infections in its latest data on Saturday. During the pandemic, the county has had 1,551 virus-related deaths and 69,142 cases.

Hospitalizations because of the virus are at 365, with 88 of those patients being treated in intensive care units.

An additional 13,213 tests for COVID-19 were reported within the last day, bringing the cumulative number of tests administered in the county to 1,327,852. The healthcare agency estimates that 57,723 people countywide have recovered after having the virus.

Stefanie da Silva, 27, of Huntington Beach, helps guide vehicles at the Power of One Foundation Thanksgiving food giveaway.

Stefanie da Silva, 27, of Huntington Beach, helps guide vehicles in at the Power of One Foundation Thanksgiving food giveaway.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in Orange County:

  • Santa Ana: 13,267 cases; 324 deaths
  • Anaheim: 11,743 cases; 337 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 3,009 cases; 88 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 2,347 cases; 45 deaths
  • Irvine: 2,349 cases; 14 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 1,388 cases; 26 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 720 cases; 21 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 293 cases; fewer than five deaths

Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths:

  • 0 to 17: 5,410 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 10,274 cases; four deaths
  • 25 to 34: 14,755 cases; 21 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 10,983 cases; 41 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 11,176 cases; 119 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 8,312 cases; 213 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 4,218 cases; 304 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 2,247 cases; 337 deaths
  • 85 and older: 1,719 cases; 511 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. For information on getting tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

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