WALNUT CREEK -- People are people regardless of their circumstances -- especially when they have plates of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie in front of them.

About 200 people, many of whom were homeless or without families, shared fellowship and stories during a free community Thanksgiving meal Thursday afternoon at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Richmond, Livermore, Dublin and Antioch were among the East Bay communities also putting on free dinners with all the fixings for anyone looking for companionship.

Though conversation topics varied inside the St. Paul's dining room, much of the time talk went back to the food.

"Everything is just really good," said Kenny Richards, adding that his personal favorite was the "Southwest-style stuffing."

"It almost tastes like a breakfast burrito," Richards said to Mike Meehan.

Meehan, who said that he has "lived outdoors for a while" because he was a victim of circumstances, said his favorite dish was the fresh broccoli.

Polly Wyke said in between mouthfuls of food that her favorite was the turkey. Wyke explained she was a slow eater because she has no teeth.

"I've been anticipating this all year long," said Greg Johnson.

The Thanksgiving meal was the first in Walnut Creek in quite some time, event organizers said.

St. Paul's, Trinity Center for the homeless, Bay Area Rescue Mission and several other local churches organized the event.

"There were so many people that wanted to help, we had to turn away volunteers," said Gary Kingsbury, Bay Area Rescue Mission's vice president of operations.

Walnut Creek has a growing homeless and working poor population who need help, said Donna Colombo, Trinity House's executive director.

"A lot of them sleep in their cars," Colombo said.

Trinity Center, formerly Fresh Start, traditionally held a dinner on Thanksgiving. This year, it partnered with Bay Area Rescue Mission for the larger event.

"It's great that it allows people to share their life story, or the stories of the moment, no matter what walk of life they come from," Colombo said.

The Walnut Creek dinner featured about 75 pounds of turkey, 100 pounds of mashed potatoes and several tables covered with apple and pumpkin pies -- enough for people to have seconds of everything.

"There's enough for multiple blessings," Kingsbury said.

Meehan saved enough room for pumpkin pie.

"This is great," he said, digging into a sliver of pie and showing a shirt-covered full belly. "I couldn't ask for more."

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.