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Daily Pilot

An angel on the phone

Someone Cares didn't know how it was going to feed everyone this Turkey Day. Then came a donor's call.

By Andrew Shortall

7:54 PM PST, November 21, 2012

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A week-and-a-half ago, Someone Cares Soup Kitchen wasn't quite sure where it would get the money for its 26th annual Thanksgiving Day meal.

Shannon Santos, the Costa Mesa soup kitchen's executive director, got her answer when the founder of Premiere Health Services, Susan Scott, called.

"She said she wanted to cover the cost, and I shrieked," Santos said. "When Susan called it was just a godsend. For that to happen, it's part of the magic that goes on here. We have a saying, 'We're going to put it out there in the universe,' and the universe always gives back twice-full."

Scott presented Santos with a $2,500 check to cover Thanksgiving Day expenses for Someone Cares, 720 W. 19th St. Officials at the nonprofit expect 500 to 700 people to come through their doors between noon and 3 p.m. Thursday for a meal.

Newport Mesa Church, 2599 Newport Blvd., also will host a Thanksgiving dinner at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Usually, Premiere Health Services buys gifts for some of its "high-profile clients" during the holidays, but Scott decided to spend the money differently this year.

"This year, I said we're going to give back to the community," said Scott, who also helped serve lunch Wednesday at the kitchen. "It was one of those moments where they're cheering on the phone and you're on the other end, just happy to do it."

It was business as usual Wednesday at Someone Cares, with a full dining room for lunch and a long line of people hoping to be served. Each day the kitchen serves 250 to 325 people, Santos said, with most meals being prepared by Chef Lorrie Sanchez, who's worked there for 13 years.

"We call it a five-star soup kitchen," Sanchez said. "All of our stuff, thanks to Trader Joe's, is five-star, truly. It's great food."

Traders Joe's is one of about 20 different corporate sponsors that donate to the kitchen.

Those who came for lunch Wednesday were served lamb chops, salmon topped with mango salsa, tilapia, dessert and much more. For Thanksgiving, everyone will be treated to a traditional meal of turkey, ham, string beans, corn, roasted sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry mold and pumpkin pie.

Dennis, a local homeless man and Vietnam War veteran who's been coming to Someone Cares for about three years, had no complaints.

"It's a great place. You never get a bad meal, it's always a well-balanced meal," said Dennis, who requested his last name not be published. "It will be a little chaotic tomorrow, but they do a fantastic job. They've got this down to a science here."

Share Our Selves provides safety-net services to the homeless and low-income populations in Orange County. It will continue to pass out bags of food to preregistered families.

SOS Social Services Program Coordinator Veronica Rodarte estimated 1,200 people will have come by to pick up food between Wednesday and Friday.

"On a normal day, we pass out about 200 to 250 bags of food," she said. "Even after Thanksgiving, all the way up until Christmas, it starts picking up a lot more."

andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Twitter: TCNShortall