Samoan church shares culture, turkey on Thanksgiving

A Samoan church in California is spreading island culture through sharing food with neighbours in celebration of Thanksgiving in Fairfield, California, in the United States of America. 

The leader of the Samoan Christian Fellowship Church, Reverend Alexander Ledoux, 59, said the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the state of California has isolated families and created a great need.

There are a total of 1.2 million cases of the coronavirus in California according to data from Johns Hopkins University data.

The Thanksgiving meal giveaway is an annual event hosted by the church, according to a local newspaper, the Daily Record. 

But this year it’s quite different.

For their own safety, many American families are unable to observe their usual Thanksgiving Day traditions – such as traveling and merry visits and big get-togethers.

Rev. Ledoux started the annual holiday giveaway 10 years ago when he came to the church, which has been part of the community for 25 years and has between 50 and 60 parishioners.

He told the Daily Republic that caring for neighbors is an island custom.

“The [Samoan] culture is very family oriented. No one goes hungry on the island,” said Rev. Ledoux, who hails from American Samoa.

He has lived in Fairfield since 1987.

The church has had a twice-weekly distribution for the past decade, too, but in the face of COVID-19 this has been condensed to one day. 

But the number of people helped is higher than ever.

“The need has been greater because of COVID-19. There are a lot of [people] who are laid off; some are staying home because of the children,” Rev. Ledoux said to the Daily Record.

He expected to serve about 400 people during an afternoon drive-through, and another 400 or more for the hot meal giveaway Wednesday night.

Rev. Ledoux said he partners with Mission Samoa for his programmes, and to get out the message of “hope and love” during these trying times.

He called the effort a “great journey.”

“Plus, our facility is always open for emergency needs. Someone will always come down if someone calls us and needs a blanket or some food, whatever we have,” Rev. Ledoux said.

Mother-of-two Tabby Fuentes was among those in the drive-through line for the annual Samoan Christian Fellowship Thanksgiving meal giveaway.

Her husband had been laid off from his warehousing job during the pandemic.

“This is our Thanksgiving,” Ms Fuentes said.

“Usually we travel to my sister’s home in Stockton for the holidays, but we are staying close to home this year.” 


Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?