Bay Area Rescue Mission seeks turkeys, cash donations for massive Thanksgiving event

Bay Area Rescue Mission seeks turkeys, cash donations for massive Thanksgiving event
Cooks preparing Thanksgiving meals at last year's Bay Area Rescue Mission event.

The Bay Area Rescue Mission is seeking donations of turkeys, other foods and cash in advance of its Great Thanksgiving Banquet next week at Richmond Memorial Auditorium, where more than 1,000 homeless and impoverished men, women and children are expected to be served meals.

What the Richmond-based nonprofit no longer needs are volunteers to prepare and serve the meals at the Banquet dinner, which is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Wednesday. More than 200 people have signed up to volunteer at the event, said John Anderson, the Bay Area Rescue Mission’s president and CEO.

Thanksgiving meals will also be offered throughout the week at the Bay Area Rescue Mission headquarters at 200 Macdonald Ave.

“We anticipate on the week of Thanksgiving we will be providing over 25,000 meals,” Anderson said, adding the nonprofit will go through about 3,000 turkeys by the end of next week. “Half will be served in the dining room, while the other half is distributed through our food pantry distribution center.”

The nonprofit is also holding a Christmas event Dec. 22 at Richmond Memorial Auditorium specifically for homeless and needy children, Anderson said.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided 365 days a year at the center. During the last 12 months, 1,471,000 meals have been served by Bay Area Rescue Mission, Anderson said.

Large events such as the Great Thanksgiving Banquet provide a great opportunity for outreach, Anderson said. Attendees are encouraged to tap the many other services Bay Area Rescue Mission offers to help them become financially stable, including counseling, job skills training and housing placement. According to Anderson, 81-percent of the program’s graduates are never homeless again.

“We encourage people to come to the Rescue Mission so that God can change their lives,” said Anderson, who himself was homeless for three months in 1982-83 before he found help.

Anderson encourages folks to volunteer at the nonprofit throughout the year in addition to the holiday season. Of the nine counties that touch San Francisco Bay, there are more than 180,000 homeless people and on any given night about 35,000 living on the street, Anderson said.

“It is very people-intensive work that we do,” he said. “Almost anything you can imagine doing as a volunteer, you can do, from repairing to tutoring, painting, landscaping, serving meals and stuffing envelopes. The need is here every day.”