For Wilshire area resident Juan Pablo, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be possible without the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division and the Life Driven Foundation.
Pablo was among 200 people who received a free turkey on Nov. 21 through an inaugural partnership between the police station and the foundation.
“I’m having a Thanksgiving turkey thanks to the Wilshire police department, and that’s from the bottom of my heart,” Pablo said. “It makes a big difference. I went to look for a turkey at the store, but it was just too expensive. I’m very grateful and blessed to have the local police department here to help the community, because they are really making a difference. This is my Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s happening thanks to the Wilshire Division.”
Sgt. A.J. Kirby said the Wilshire Division and Life Driven Foundation previously partnered to hold youth sports programs, but this year foundation founder Chris Word called him with a special request. Malibu businessman Amir Heshmatpour, of AFH Holding and Advisory LLC, donated the turkeys to the foundation, and Word said the Wilshire Division was the perfect place to distribute them.
“[Chris Word] came up with the idea. He told me hey, ‘there’s possibility we can do a turkey giveaway, would you be interested?’ And I said, ‘sure, just pick a date,’ and that’s how it came about,” Kirby said. “It promotes goodwill between the police and the community, and it’s something we hope to continue for years and years.”
“We’re [celebrating] Thanksgiving when we ought to be thankful for many things, but there are unfortunately families out there that don’t have the resources to provide what we would consider a nice, full celebration,” LAPD Deputy Chief Blake Chow said. “Anything that we can do with the community to bring that joy to a family during the holidays is something we’re totally behind.”
The police station and the foundation promoted the turkey giveaway on social media. with flyers, and word of mouth. Heshmatpour said many recipients may not have otherwise been able to have a turkey on Thanksgiving.
“The inflation numbers [show] turkeys are up 24%,” Heshmatpour added. “Philanthropy has been a big part of my life. We participate with UCLA, we participate with Make-A-Wish and participate with several other schools and programs to help.”
Word started the nonprofit Life Driven Foundation after battling cancer in 2006 and seeing children at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center also suffering from the disease. The foundation, based at 232 N. Canon Drive in Beverly Hills, supports cancer research and access to resources and information on cancer prevention, awareness and screenings.
“I’m an ex-Marine and I believe in no kid left behind, you know, no family left behind,” Word said. “We do whatever we can to help people eat and be happy. We will definitely think about them on Thanksgiving and we will reach out to some of the families and make sure that they had a good holiday. We are also going to be here for Christmas and make sure kids have toys.”
Kirby said the station will begin collecting toys after Thanksgiving at 4861 W. Venice Blvd. For information, call the Wilshire Division’s Community Relations Office at (213)473-0200. For information about the Life Driven Foundation, visit lifedriven.org.
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