The Boys and Girls Club of Venice served more than 500 people an early holiday meal on Nov. 21 during its annual Thanksgiving Feast — a record attendance in the event’s 45-year history, organizers said.
The club serves about 4,000 children per year through programs that include after-school tutoring and homework help, job training and preparedness workshops, college admission counseling and youth sports, including a sailing club at Mother’s Beach.
Most children involved with club activities come from low-income families.
The event was made possible by the work of some 90 volunteers and donors, the largest of them Bank of American, which gave $3,500, said Courtney Byrd, the club’s development director.
Diners participated in an outdoor “turkey trot” run and walk and heard music performed by club members as they ate in the facility’s gym and an overflow room in the community center, she said.
The menu included turkey, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, salad, pie, cake and cookies.
“A lot of our parents work but they sometimes aren’t capable of providing a nice meal at Thanksgiving. We want to make it easy on our families and at the same time also give thanks,” said Marketing and Development Director Danielle Chi.
The club is hosting a Christmas dinner and toy giveaway on Dec. 23.

Gabor gifts turkeys in Venice
Zsa Zsa Gabor and husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt donated 200 turkeys on Monday to the Vera Davis McClendon Youth and Family Center in Venice, according to the nonprofit social services hub.
The 96-year-old actress and socialite had performed community service at the center more than 20 years ago after slapping a police officer.
“We decided to make Thanksgiving a part of the people’s lives at the center when Zsa Zsa was helping out and saw that they couldn’t afford to do a Thanksgiving dinner,” von Anhalt said in a statement released by the center. “She bought 24 turkeys that year. …  This year we’re delivering 200.”

Artist’s visit revs student creativity
Coeur d’Alene Elementary School in Venice celebrated a grant in support of the school last week as part of “Educator for a Day” activities that brought community members into local public schools as guest teachers.
Walden University, an online college, awarded Coeur d’Alene a $5,000 grant that will buy the LAUSD school an interactive digital SMART board, Principal Andrew Jenkins said. Jenkins said he hopes to one day have a SMART board in every classroom, but for starters this one will go in the school’s library.
As part of its celebration on Thursday, Coeur d’Alene invited Micah Linton, a game designer and award-winning children’s author, into the classroom.
Linton, whose daughter attends the school, showed students a video of his latest book, “Derby and Darcy,” which depicts characters using creativity to make something useful from discarded items. He also showed students various sketches he had drawn before asking them to illustrate what they could do to find new uses for various household items.
“Children are the best sources of imagination and creativity. It’s adults who can learn a lot from the children,” Linton said.
The author asked a group of first graders if they knew what recycling was, and the students displayed a deep understanding not only of recycling but the consequences of allowing pollution to enter the ocean. One boy said his father wanted to throw away a cardboard box but he retrieved it and later made a toy out of it.
In Linton’s story, his main characters employ the same kind of ingenuity. Derby and Darcy use what they have salvaged to go on adventures in airplanes and space ships.
“When you give a child an idea, that feedback that comes back to you is truthful and from the heart,” he said.

Loyola High lauds alumnus
Loyola High School awarded alumnus Paul Freese — vice president of the pro bono law firm Public Counsel, which works on behalf of low-income families and foster children — one of its highest honors this month for his record of service to others.
Freese, who graduated from the Jesuit high school  in 1973 and lives in Mar Vista, was one of five people feted with the school’s Cahalan Award on Nov. 16.
The award is named for former school President Patrick J. Cahalan, S.J., who is now chancellor of Loyola Marymount University.
“My classmate Paul could have gone on to a very lucrative law career and instead chose to defend those who could not and cannot defend themselves,” said Fr. Gregory Goethals, S.J., the current president of Loyola High School, located in central Los Angeles. “He truly embodies what it means to be an Ignatian man for others.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been changed to correct the location of Loyola High School.