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VIDEO: Mama's Kitchen honors volunteers with gala at Manchester Grand Hyatt

Editor's note: The Manchester Grand Hyatt is no longer owned by Doug Manchester. Manchester and his hotel were the subject of a long-standing boycott by the LGBT community and their allies because of his support of the Yes on 8 campaign to overturn gay marriage rights in California.

SAN DIEGO -- More than 300 Mama's Kitchen volunteers gathered at the Manchester Grand Hyatt last week to celebrate the work and time they give to the HIV/AIDS service organization, while local Hyatt employees kicked off the company's new "Hyatt Thrive" program by starting a food drive to benefit Mama's Pantry.

Mama's Kitchen, which prepares and delivers food to men, women and children who are affected by AIDS or cancer, utilizes over 700 volunteers to run the seven-day a week operation that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

The organization's volunteers served 324,144 meals throughout San Diego County in 2010.

To recognize the dedication of its volunteer force, Mama's Kitchen and Hyatt teamed up to host the celebration, which included tastings of of culinary treats created by chefs from many of Hyatt's San Diego properties, including Manchester Grand, Mission Bay, La Jolla and The Andaz.

"It was wonderful to have 300 Mama's Kitchen volunteers come to Manchester Grand Hyatt and celebrate the wonderful work they all do," said Kelly Commerford, the hotel's director of marketing. "Hyatt was very pleased to host the event, as supporting Mama's Kitchen is the perfect San Diego launch of 'Hyatt Thrive,' our new corporate responsibility platform."

By creating Hyatt Thrive, the company hopes to harness the power of its more than 85,000 associates around the world to help make the communities it does business in be places its associates are proud to work, where guests want to visit, and where neighbors want to live and invest.

The company says it recognizes the needs of the various worldwide communities it does business are vastly different, so it allows flexibility by allowing teams of local associates to create their own projects to bring a neighborhood feel to the effort.

"As part of this effort, in addition to hosting the dinner, Hyatt employees in San Diego County are staging a food drive and have already donated several bins of food to Mama's Pantry," Commerord said.

The Mama's Kitchen event was the local Hyatt's first service project connected to the company's Thrive program.

Alberto Cortes, executive director of Mama's Kitchen, said that support from community groups and corporations like Hyatt is vital to his organization's success.

"Summertime is traditionally slow for food drives, so support from the community, such as the food drive done by Manchester Grand Hyatt and the other San Diego Hyatts, is very helpful," Cortes said. "We count on community food drives to help us stock our pantry shelves so that our low-income neighbors struggling with HIV/AIDS have the food they need to sustain their health."

Cortes noted 2009 and 2010 were record years for Mama's Pantry, and the demand for pantry services continues to rise every year.

The Mama's Kitchen volunteer force, which has served 5,379,000 meals since 1990, is always looking for new volunteers as well as donations for the organization. To learn more about supporting Mama's Kitchen, click HERE.