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Giving Thanks 


With Thanksgiving upon us, we've all heard, seen and read seasonal pleas for charitable giving. This year things are desperate. The nation's current financial crisis has obliged more and more people to seek charitable assistance at precisely the time that money's tightening like a vice, leaving most everyone with diminished disposable resources. While all charities suffer in this climate, it's perhaps most acutely felt by those who provide essential services like food. According to folks at the Redwood Empire Food Bank, as many as 93,000 people in Sonoma County alone face "food insecurity." Though the Food Bank takes in close to 11 million pounds of food valued at $12 million, it's simply not enough to meet the growing demand.

Fortunately, the holidays also bring out a rush of volunteers kindly giving their time and energies to organizations, especially on the holidays themselves. While many of these volunteers won't be seen again until the next holiday season, the good news is area food banks and meals programs still need your help today. All meals listed below are free to the public.

Santa Rosa's Redwood Gospel Mission hosts a 5,000-guest shebang the day before Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, from 11am to 7pm. There'll be a sit-down feast in the Showcase Cafe as well as face-painting and a bounce house at Finley Hall. St. Joseph's mobile medical and Sutter dental volunteers will be on hand giving flu shots and checkups. Free haircuts, live music and chapel services round out the party. Turkey donators and volunteer haircutters, please call Alice at 707.578.1830.

The Napa Salvation Army serves dinner on Thanksgiving Day from 11:30am to 2pm, at 590 Franklin St., Napa. Food, monetary donations and volunteers are all needed. Call Captain Rachel Johnson at 707.226.8150, ext. 110.

St. Vincent DePaul in San Rafael needs produce packers on both the Monday and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving from 1pm to 4pm. Then come for turkey with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day from 11am to 1pm. According to St. Vinnie's Mike Bromham, the San Rafael facility serves 350 free meals each day and is 99 percent dependent on public funding. So, if you have a few extra bucks, they can go to good use. 820 B St., San Rafael. 415.454.3303.

And finally, from the Only in Wine Country Files: A gourmet meal with chef Gary Edwards at the Sonoma Community Center features organic Willie Bird turkeys, along with duck, salmon, lamb, organic produce, local wines and decadent desserts all accompanied by the music of Earl Blue Quartet from 3pm to 6pm on Thanksgiving day. 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. Call Sandra to donate cash or volunteer, 707.938.4626, ext. 1.

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