Thanksgiving.jpgA San Francisco nonprofit is bringing together members of several religious faiths this afternoon to prepare Thanksgiving meals for homeless and low-income residents.

The St. Anthony Foundation is preparing 4,000 turkey dinners for Thursday’s holiday, and the Catholic organization invited members of the Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian communities to help put the meals together, spokeswoman Francis Aviani said.

“We’re all working together,” Aviani said. “That may not be the message people see in the media all the time, but it’s what we experience, and we feel like it’s an important time for people to see that.”

Due to increased demand from a growing homeless population, the 4,000 meals being prepared this year represent a 5 percent increase over last year and a 12 percent increase over three years ago, she said.

Volunteers will be preparing the meals from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. today at the St. Anthony Dining Room at 45 Jones St.

St. Anthony’s is also encouraging people to give to its holiday curbside donation drive, which takes place annually the week before Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas.

Aviani said the foundation is accepting food, clothing and monetary donations outside its headquarters at 105 Golden Gate Ave.

About 150 turkeys are still needed, as well as canned and dried foods to fill the nonprofit’s pantries for emergencies.

Warm clothing is also at a premium, especially with the recent dip in the temperature in San Francisco.

“Clean, warm, good condition clothing,” she said. “Stuff that you’d want your family wearing if they fell on hard times.”

Aviani said many people who have donated this year are giving back after having used the foundation’s services themselves.

“There’s people that have come for services in the past, as well as people whose lives have been impacted by family members who are struggling,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of people who are coming forward as a way to offer support to the broader community.”

The curbside drive runs through Thursday. Donations can be made between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. today and Thursday. The drive will continue again the week prior to Christmas, from Dec. 18-24.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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