Menbere Aklilu opens the doors of Salute e Vita Ristorante to people who need Thanksgiving dinner.
Groups try to share Thanksgiving with everybody
Thanksgiving is the season of sharing. Here are some opportunities in the Diocese of Oakland to make sure everyone has something to be thankful for on Nov. 27.
St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County operates a free dining room year-round at 675 23rd St., Oakland. The dining room is planning to serve 800 guests Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings between 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Although volunteer spots for Thanksgiving Day may already be filled, dial 510-877-9252 or email email@example.com to learn how to volunteer. Donations to help cover the cost of the Thanksgiving meal may be mailed to St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County, 9235 San Leandro St., Oakland 94603. Put "Dining Room" on the notes line of the check. Donate online at www.svdp-alameda.org/gift or dial 510-922-8750.
Food donations — turkeys most welcome! — may be brought to the dining room. Contact Martin Dorrance, 510-385-8926, for questions on food donations.
St. Vincent de Paul also needs gently used warm coats of all sizes that can be donated at any St. Vincent de Paul site, including the dining room, district office and retail stores, through Dec. 30.
Contra Costa County
Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County offers these programs for Thanksgiving:
SVdP District Council Thanksgiving Dinner, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 27, The SVdP Dining Room is serving a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, with all the trimmings. Help serve the meal, setup and clean up before the event, and distribute donated hygiene items.
Need: Volunteers, cash donations, socks or hygiene items
Where: SVdP Free Dining Room,1415 Simpson Court, Pittsburg
To volunteer: Contact Stephen Krank, 925-439-5060; must be 18 or older
To donate: Online: www.svdp-cc.org or send checks to: Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County, Attn: Thanksgiving Program, 2210 Gladstone Drive, Pittsburg, CA 94565.
SVdP District Council Thanksgiving One Warm Coat Collection, 9 a.m.-5 p.m, Nov. 28, Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek. SVdP truck will be at Broadway Plaza to collect donated coats for distribution to the needy.
Contact: Stephen Krank, 925-439-5060, firstname.lastname@example.org
SVdP Conferences providing more than 800 Thanksgiving Food Baskets to Needy Families: More than 12 of the 27 SVdP Conferences in Contra Costa County are providing special Thanksgiving Food Basket programs to more than 800 needy families. Food baskets are being distributed to needy families in Pittsburg, Bay Point, Richmond, Concord, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Martinez, San Pablo and Walnut Creek.
Need: Turkeys, hams and/or cash donations
Contact: Stephen Krank at 925-439-5060 or email@example.com
To donate: Send checks to: SVdP of Contra Costa County, 2210 Gladstone Drive, Pittsburg, CA 94565, Attn: Thanksgiving Food Basket program.
Menbere Aklilu opens the doors of Salute e Vita Ristorante, her Richmond Marina Bay restaurant, to homeless and people who need Thanksgiving dinner.
The generosity of the Ethiopian-born Aklilu is rooted in her own story, of violence in her homeland, and later in giving birth to her son in a shelter for homeless women in Rome run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity.
This year, some sisters from that same order who serve in Richmond will be ferrying more than 80 people in numerous trips in their van to the dinner at Aklilu' s restaurant, which will be served at 11 a.m.
Served is the word. It's a white tablecloth, silverware, china fine dining experience, topped off with a cappuccino. But there's more. Doctors will offer flu shots. She has goodie bags for the guests. She hopes to give each a $25 Visa card. The dinner is on the house.
Last year, Salute served 1,300 guests, mostly from homeless shelters and referred by community groups in Richmond.
This year, the ranks of those who dine at no cost at Salute are 700 veterans from Contra Costa and Marin counties.
It's Aklilu's way of saying thank you for what she treasures most.
"I walk everywhere with freedom," she said. "For me, it's the most important thing.
"I arrived in this country; I got a home with freedom and rights."
Email Traci McWain at firstname.lastname@example.org to offer to volunteer. Donations to help with the transportation and gifts to the diners may be made to GRIP, "Salute Thanksgiving Celebration" and sent to: Salute E Vita Ristorante,
1900 Esplanade Drive, Richmond, CA 94804.
At the Thanksgiving dinner, Aklilu will walk among her guests, telling them, "I am one of you. I was homeless. I've been in the shelter."
What she believes they will leave with is hope: "If she did it, I can do it."
The Tri-Valley Community Outreach Dinner enters its third year, with the traditional sit-down Thanksgiving dinner being served from noon to 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, at St. Raymond Parish, 11555 Shannon Ave., Dublin.
"We have the endorsement of four mayors," said Matt Troiano, a member of the core team. The mayors of Dublin, Pleasanton, Danville and San Ramon have endorsed the event, he said. Nine faith communities are involved in the effort.
"I'm expecting 250 guests," Troiano said. Last year, in addition to the sit-down dinner, 50 meals were delivered to the homes of shut-ins.
An invitation has been extended again this year to those serving at Camp Parks, Troiano said, and an Army band will be providing entertainment this year.
Two professional chefs — including one who teaches culinary arts at City College of San Francisco — are expected to be in the kitchen.
About 100 volunteers will set up the night before, in addition to those who will work on Thanksgiving.
There's a new website this year: www.tvc-thanksgiving.com. The website offers the opportunity to sign up for a volunteer shift. "People can go online and pick what they want to do," Troiano said.
There's also information about how to make a donation of money or food, which is requested by Nov. 17.
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