After the success of the inaugural Street Feast last year, Ryan Richardson is counting his blessings that so many are supporting this yearâ€™s celebration.
â€œLast year, we had this idea to have a big community Thanksgiving here in Brentwood and people really embraced it,â€ said Richardson, owner of Willyâ€™s Bagels and Blends. â€œI didnâ€™t have to go around asking for help this year. People have been coming up to me asking how they can help out. Especially the families who attended last year â€“ they are so excited to share that community spirit with others in need.â€
But Street Feast is more than a free Thanksgiving meal for those in need. Itâ€™s a community celebration, a chance to gather with neighbors and give thanks. As the event is open to all, Richardson stresses that anyone looking for a place to go on Thanksgiving is welcome. If you burn the turkey, no problem. Come to Street Feast. If your flight to visit family is cancelled and you didnâ€™t have a backup plan, no problem. Come to Street Feast. If you donâ€™t have any friends in the area, no problem. Come to Street Feast.
New this year is a pickup program to bring East County residents out to Towne Center, the Safeway shopping center on Second Street, if they have no other way of getting there.
â€œWe donâ€™t want to exclude anyone,â€ Richardson said. â€œWeâ€™re going to have several pickup locations, and weâ€™ll drive you out to the celebration. Especially for our senior citizens who are alone this season and donâ€™t have their own transportation, we want to make sure they have the opportunity to share the holiday.â€
Street Feast, which is sponsored by Willyâ€™s Bagels and Blends in partnership with Cornerstone Fellowship and a multitude of other local businesses, charities and community groups, drew a crowd of more than 400 in its first year, and Richardson has set this yearâ€™s goal at 1,000 guests. The more the merrier. Since Richardson hopes to bring in 120 turkeys for the event, there will be plenty of food to go around. Heâ€™s currently accepting donations at Willyâ€™s and is tracking the donations with Turkey Count 2011. Itâ€™s only a tally maintained on a chalkboard behind the counter of the Second Street Willyâ€™s location, but customers come in regularly to see how the effort is going. Every $8 donation purchases a turkey. As of press time, Richardson reported the Turkey Count at 81 â€“ only 39 gobblers to go.
In addition to the food, Street Feast offers activities and jump houses for the kids, TVs for catching the big football games, live music, a food pantry and a community closet for those in need of food and warm clothes for the upcoming winter season. Donations are being accepted at both Willyâ€™s locations: on Second Street and West Country Club Drive.
Volunteers are also needed for the event. While Richardson has already assembled an army of helping hands, thereâ€™s always room for one more. Monetary donations and grocery gift cards are also being accepted to ensure thereâ€™s plenty of food.
Richardson hopes Street Feast will become a Brentwood tradition, and based on the support he has received, it seems likely that it will have staying power. â€œMy family has decided that this is how weâ€™re going to celebrate Thanksgiving from now on,â€ Richardson said.
â€œWe want to host an event for the community because they are the ones that have kept us in business all these years and we want to say thank you. We also know that a lot of people in the community have big hearts and want to help, and they donâ€™t necessarily know the best way to do that. With Street Feast, they have a way to directly give back to the people in their community. Itâ€™s a win-win for everyone.â€
Street Feast will be held at Brentwood Towne Center, 1185 Second St., from noon to 4 p.m. To make a donation or volunteer, inquire at Willyâ€™s, 390 West Country Club Drive and 1155 Second St. For more information, call 925-634-2245 or 925-308-7534.
For information about Street Feast transportation, call Erin York at 209-914-3729