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Many Ways to Share This Thanksgiving
By Laura McHale Holland
"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms. Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others."
Plymouth Colony, 1621
Excerpted from Mourt's Relation, originally published in London, 1622
Much has changed since the Pilgrims' 1621 harvest feast--now popularly referred to as the first Thanksgiving. But the urge to sit down to a meal with family and friends, and to share our bounty with others, remains.
The colonists downed their turkeys, geese, ducks, and even, gulp, swans outdoors, because none of their buildings could accommodate a large number of people. You, however, can begin your Thanksgiving revels in the cozy Noe Valley Ministry building surrounded by the members, alumni, and friends of the Noe Valley Co-Op Nursery School.
"Our Thanksgiving feast is open to the whole community. Homeless folks are welcome, for instance. Merchants are welcome. All Noe Valley folk are invited," says Nina Youkelson, the school's director since its inception in 1969. "It originally started for family--cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles--who were visiting for the holidays. Then we added alumni, and then when the seniors came for the lunch program at the Ministry many years later, we added them. And, of course, the Noe Valley Ministry's congregation is invited, and the other people who use this facility. We'd especially love to see our alumni," she adds.
The turkey and trimmings, including pies and bread made by the school's children, will be served at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 27. The Ministry is at 1021 Sanchez Street, at 23rd Street.
Donate Canned Food
If you want to help people who are down on their luck enjoy a wholesome Thanksgiving meal, there are many places in the neighborhood where you'll be able to donate canned or other non-perishable foods. Here is a sampling of opportunities to give in the neighborhood.
First, many public schools in the city participate in the San Francisco Food Bank's Thanksgiving Food Drive, including Alvarado School at Douglass and 23rd streets and James Lick School at Noe and Clipper streets.
"The Food Bank people bring in these great big drums, and the children and neighbors donate canned goods for people in need. It's just things that aren't perishable, things that are healthy for people like beans, canned soups, tuna," says Alvarado's school secretary, Patty Poli.
Join the Cub Scouts
Cub Scout Pack 88 will also be soliciting donations for the San Francisco Food Bank, on Saturdays, Nov. 9 and 16. They'll assemble at the Real Management Company (RMC), 1234 Castro Street, at 9 a.m., and fan out through the neighborhood, knocking on doors. Someone also will be at the office each of those days until 3 p.m., if you would like to drop off foods there.
"Collecting food for the San Francisco Food Bank is one of two community service projects our Cubs do each year," says pack leader Bob Boileau. (Call him if you're interested in learning more: 826-6359.) Last year, the Scouts collected 1,000 pounds of canned and boxed food. Their goal this year is 1,500 pounds.
Help Fill Those Food Baskets
Many faith communities in the neighborhood are doing food drives as well. St. Paul's Church at Church and Valley streets is collecting non-perishable food for Thanksgiving baskets each Sunday in November, before and after masses. For more information, call 648-7538.
One block away, the Church at San Francisco at 28th and Church streets, is doing the same thing. You can donate food at the church, or if you have money to help purchase turkeys, call 642-0302.
"We distributed a flyer about the program, and already by mid-October about 15 families were signed up for baskets," says church secretary Teresa Bell. "We put a large barrel in front of the church each day where people can just drop off cans of green beans, corn, canned gravy, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, boxes of stuffing, all the non-perishable trimmings."
Another group preparing Thanksgiving packets for families in Upper Noe Valley and the Mission is the Missionaries of Charity, located within St. Paul's at 312 29th Street near Church Street.
"The packets will be for families that our novitiates [sisters in training] visit throughout the year, as part of their preparation to join the order," says Sister Thomas More, who is charged with mentoring novices of this religious order founded by Mother Teresa in 1982.
"We welcome canned goods or any type of food that won't spoil quickly. You can bring them from 8 a.m. to noon or from 3 to 6:30 p.m., seven days a week. Between noon and 3 p.m. we're not free to come to the door so much. We have our prayer time, and the sisters have classes," she adds. For more information, call 647-1889.
Give to the Salvation Army
Do you have a surplus of produce or bread? There is one organization nearby that will take fresh food. It's the Salvation Army at 1509 Valencia Street, at 26th.
"We can take donations of food and clothing right at the store," says store manager John Boatman. "The food will go to the Salvation Army's rehabilitation program across the street. They will do a special Thanksgiving meal, but they also cook about 150 meals per day, all three meals, so they can use any type of food. And if they end up with extra food, they donate it to the San Francisco Food Bank, St. Anthony's, and Glide Memorial Church. I'll set up some barrels here for food, so send people over," he adds. "We're open from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., every day except Sunday."
Make Peanut Butter Sandwiches
If you're a hands-on sort of person, you can join members of Bethany Church at Clipper and Sanchez at noon on the first Sunday of each month. They make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their kitchen and then distribute them at the Civic Center. They also always have canned goods on hand to distribute to people who come to the church for help.
Here's another possibility for those associated with a business or event that has leftovers too good to be thrown away. You might follow the lead of the Noe Valley Bakery on 24th Street. At the end of each day, the bakery donates baked goods that would otherwise go to waste to Food Runners, an organization of volunteers who pick up perishable and prepared food and deliver it to organizations that feed the hungry. To donate your extras, call 929-1866. A volunteer will come pick it up pronto. For more information, go to www.foodrunners.org.
Look for Charities Online
If you're a mouse potato who's feeling generous, check out www.justgive.org. Founded in 1999 by former Noe Valley resident Kendall Webb (she moved to Berkeley three months ago), JustGive is a nonprofit organization that aims to increase overall giving by connecting people with the charities and causes they care about via the Internet.
"I was working at a dot-com and saw the incredible value of the Internet for the nonprofit sector," recalls Webb. "Sadly, the nonprofits could not afford to set up online donating for themselves, and the hundreds of service companies entering this arena were doing it as a for-profit business. [So] I hired nine friends, at half their rate, who took sabbaticals from their jobs for a year to help me launch the site."
Now more than 4,000 donors use justgive.org to make regular contributions, and all 850,000 registered charities in the U.S. are able to get help through the site. When you log on, you can search for a particular charity, or browse by category, such as Animals, Arts, Children, Environment, Health, Homeless, and Peace.
National Adoption Month
If you want to do something huge, something far beyond donating food or money, consider this: November is National Adoption Awareness Month.
"We feel a great deal of education needs to be done to inform the public about the continuing critical need for adoptive parents, and to help families understand how readily possible it is for them to adopt an infant at this time," says Bradford Woo, San Francisco coordinator for ACCEPT, a Los Altosbased adoption and counseling center.
ACCEPT has information on many paths to adoption for couples and singles, including how to help abandoned, neglected, or abused children find permanent, loving families. Call 681-4957 for information and a free guidebook, "How to Adopt a Child from Around the World."
If you begin the adoption process now, in a few years you could be one of the parents at the Noe Valley Co-op Nursery School. And your youngster could be kneading dough for the annual Thanksgiving feast. Maybe you could even expand the menu to include frumenty, a wheat pudding that the Pilgrims may have eaten at their harvest feast back in the 17th century. See recipe below. M
1 cup cracked wheat
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1 quart water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional brown sugar
Directions: In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and add the wheat. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and continue to cook for 1/2 hour or until soft. Drain off all the water and add the milk, cream, salt, mace, cinnamon, and sugar. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed (20 to 30 minutes). In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and slowly stir 1/2 cup of the wheat mixture into the yolks. Then stir the yolk mixture into the pot, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve sprinkled with brown sugar.