Service Project

Giving Thanks Tangibly

God has invited Katie Finegan to join Him in His work of justice and jubilee from within her Central Walnut Creek neighborhood.  In this post, Katie invites us to join her in a shared table experience on behalf of those who don't have homes or tables to linger at this Thanksgiving.  Read on and embrace the invitation, the beauty and the challenge of this shared meal experience on Thursday, November 22. As we enter the month of November, many of us pay closer attention to the circumstances, relationships, and things in our lives that we are thankful for. There’s something about this season that sharpens our vision for blessings. Our lives are full: we may struggle, but we do it in the midst of community. We may have tasted hunger or loneliness, but most of us don’t live there without provision or relief of some kind. Our cups are full so that we might spill them out, and there are opportunities all around for us to do so, if we’re looking for them.

Many of us have come to understand the significance of, and value in a shared meal. As we continue to learn about how to live in the context of our neighborhoods and communities, many of us have been incorporating more meals, potlucks, happy hours, and gatherings into our weekly and monthly rhythms. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a day when many of us gather together with family and friends to give thanks for the abundance, eat a lot of turkey and stuffing, and settle into a pleasant food coma. And this meal tends to mark the beginning of a season of gatherings: drinks out with friends, plates of cookies set out in the staff lounge, coffee with old friends in town for the holidays, big family meals, pot-lucks and holiday parties. In fact, many of us struggle to balance our holiday calendars, and even experience stress over the sheer amount of social offerings and obligations that bubble up and spill over during this season. And there is certainly a lot to be thankful for during this time, abundance and blessings in our lives worthy of being celebrated and toasted.

But this isn’t the way everyone experiences these months. For many, the holidays can be the bleakest, emptiest season – a time where hunger and cold and loneliness are magnified. There are plenty of people in our neighborhoods who don’t struggle to balance stacks of invitations, who don’t effortlessly put on extra holiday weight, and who don’t have family or friends to gather with during the holidays. As we enter into this season, let’s do it with our eyes and ears open, looking and listening to where there is hunger and loneliness of all kinds. Let’s open up our homes a little more, extend invitations, share our abundance, and pay attention to the need and longing in our neighborhoods.

The campus of St. Paul’s is part of our neighborhood; it’s where Open Door gathers to worship together on Sundays, but it is also home to many organizations and groups that meet throughout the week. For the past twelve years, the youth house has been used on Tuesdays and Thursdays by Fresh Start, a non-profit organization that served the homeless, unemployed, and working poor in our community. Though Fresh Start closed on October 31st, St. Paul’s has decided to continue to offer as many services as possible, re-opening as 'The Trinity Center'. This is a unique opportunity to explore what it looks like to participate in the creation of community and to serve where there is need - in the very place where we gather together to worship and to continue to learn what it means to follow Him together.

We have a great opportunity to do this on Thanksgiving – to prepare and share a meal, to widen our circle, to fill a need, and to serve. We've been invited by our gracious host, St. Paul’s Episcopal & Bay Area Rescue Mission, to join them in preparing, serving, & partaking in a Thanksgiving feast with our friends without homes or tables. The details are below, so please consider how you might be able to support or join the effort. Even if you have family plans on the actual holiday, there are ways to help out and pull this together!

The meal will be served in the Parish Hall at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1924 Trinity Avenue, Walnut Creek, on Thanksgiving day, November 22 at 1:00pm.

Any financial donations could be made out to "Bay Area Rescue Mission" (BARM)  with “Walnut Creek Thanksgiving Meal” designated in the memo.  Donations could be dropped into Open Door's offering box and we will be happy to send them along.

Any food donations could be brought to our gatherings on Sunday, November 11 or 18th.

Turkeys have been donated, and a couple of Walnut Creek bakeries have been contacted to donate bread and pies, but we still need:

  • Stuffing
  • Potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Vegetables
  • Salads
  • Other desserts

Here is a list of volunteer host roles for the actual event:

  • Servers / Hosts
  • Food preparers
  • Entertainment / Activities team
  • Set-up crew
  • Tear- down / Clean-up crew
  • Prayer support team

Please feel free to contact me (katie.finegan at with any questions you may have, or resource, time, or support you may be able to provide.

Many Thanks!


Stop Hunger Now Experientials

Here are some Ideas to get creative in community with friends, small groups, families, neighbors, colleagues-The cost of a small black coffee from Starbucks would actually be enough to cover the cost of packaging 6.5 meals. Do some math to figure out how many meals your daily purchases are worth. Create an awareness and perspective with your purchases, and consider where you could match or go without to donate to the project. -Identify monthly luxuries. Gym, Netflix, cable, wine club, wireless, smart phone, magazine subscription, etc. Choose one or more and match the amount. -Invite neighbors and friends over for a potluck where everybody brings a simple dish, plus the amount they would normally spend out at a restaurant. -If you commute, consider matching your daily bridge toll, or the amount you spend on gas. -Empty your purse or pockets of loose change every day and collect it all in one place. There are containers for you to take. Bring them to your office or classroom as well. -Commit to eating at home and eating leftovers to avoid throwing away unnecessary food, as well as setting aside money usually spent on meals out. -Prepare a meal of rice and beans with/for your family in an effort to help them understand that this is standard fare in impoverished places.  Contribute the difference you save in money to this Hunger Project. -Ask your kids what one thing we want to give up as a family this month so that we can help hungry people eat.  Calculate the monthly cost of that one thing and contribute it to the Hunger Project. -Go without one or more meals or snacks or drinks per week and set that money aside. -Try living on less than $5 for one or more days and contribute your daily difference to the fund. -Freeze any unnecessary spending for the month and give as much as you can. -Intentionally shop for the lowest prices, use coupons, and buy bargains for the month and try to keep track of how much you are saving.  Contribute the difference to the Hunger Project. -participate in this Wednesday's fasting by not only saying no to food for the day, but adding up what would have been spent and contributing it to the fund at the prayer gathering and supper. -In your communities or neighborhoods, organize a chili cook-off, baking contest, wine-tasting, or something like that and have people vote with money, dropping dollars or coins to designate  their favorite dishes/wines/etc.