Are you looking for Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities this year? Do you want to find some way to give back to the community during the holiday season? Here are 9 great ways for you to help others during this time when we are reminded to be thankful.
Best Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities
1. Volunteer at a Turkey Trot
The concept of the Turkey Trot was developed by the YMCA in Buffalo, New York. The first race was held in 1896! Most of these races donate a portion of their proceeds to a worthy cause. Many organizations have adopted the idea of a Turkey Trot, so it is no longer just a YMCA event.
There are races all across the country that need volunteers. The races need people to help with bib pickup, race day check in, water stations and more. If you love being outdoors and want to get in the Thanksgiving spirit, this can be a fun way to kick off the holiday. Then maybe you won’t feed so guilty after you over indulge later in the day with loads of food and football. 🙂
To find a volunteer opportunity, search for “Turkey Trot near me” and I can almost guarantee you will have multiple races to choose from.
2. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels
The statistics of seniors that are food insecure are staggering. Unfortunately, the problem is expected to worsen in the next decade. There are many articles regarding this topic. One interesting read is from the Yale School of Management, called “We Need to Acknowledge the Problem of Senior Poverty“. Of course you can also get all sorts of info on Meals on Wheels America website as well.
If the idea of help seniors during the holidays peaks your interest, find a Meals on Wheels program near you. There are local programs all across the country. There are many Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities with Meals on Wheels:
- Driver – deliver meals to homebound seniors. Must be 18 years of age or older.
- Well Checks – call and check in on seniors
- Kitchen – help prepare daily meals
- Shelf Stable Prep – assemble meals for drivers to deliver
3. Stock Food at a Food Bank / Pantry
Food insecurity is a continual problem in the United States. The USDA has some interesting articles and statistics regarding this problem. If you think this isn’t really a big problem, check out this article. After doing your research, you might wonder how you can help. One way is to find a local food bank, then checkout their list of opportunities. Some of the typical tasks might be picking up, unloading and sorting food donations.
When you volunteer, I encourage you to share on social media and tag the food bank. This achieves two things:
- Gives others ideas about volunteering
- Gives recognition to the food bank itself
The best way to find a local food bank is at the Feeding America website.
4. Run in a Turkey Trot
As I said earlier, the Turkey Trot was started by the YMCA in Buffalo, New York in 1896. Many non-profits have adopted the idea of a Turkey Trot, so there are many race options on Thanksgiving day.
What is a race without runners and walkers? The races need people to participate so they can raise money for worthwhile causes. This is a super easy way to do good and get in the holiday spirit at the same time. The added bonus is you might feel less guilty after you eat too much turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes!
To find a race near you, search for Turkey Trot 2022 and I can almost guarantee you will have multiple races to choose from.
5. Create Happy Thanksgiving Cards for Senior Citizens
The older population in our country can often times get lonely. The pandemic only made matters worse. Fortunately, I think the world is in a better place now, but I know loneliness is still a problem. I love the idea of brightening someone’s Thanksgiving holiday with a card. There are several ways to reach out to this growing population and help them know they are not forgotten.
First, check out Love for our Elders, this organizations coordinates letters for senior citizens. A Yale graduate started this organization in 2013. On the website they list people you can write to for that month. In addition, they give the individual’s back story, which is helpful when trying to figure out what to write.
Second, reach out to your local senior assisted living complex and see if they will accept cards for their residents. My daughter wrote hundreds of cards to seniors, while she was in high school. It was so nice knowing that these cards might brighten someone’s day.
One last website to check out is Bring Smiles to Seniors. They absolutely love receiving cards to give to smiles to seniors. Once you mail them your cards, they will take care of delivering them to different senior communities.
Remember to try to avoid religion and make sure your cards are appropriate for anyone.
6. Volunteer at Operation Turkey
The goal of Operation Turkey is to ensure that everyone receives a meal on Thanksgiving day. Every year they prepare, package and deliver meals to the homeless. This organization started back in 2000 in Austin, Texas. I encourage you to checkout the About Us page, it will tug at your heartstrings.
They operate in 20 different cities across the country. Click here to see if there is a city near you.
7. Create Happy Thanksgiving Cards for Military or First Responders
Do you or your kiddos love to write, draw pictures, or make cards? If so, this is a super easy and fun idea. One organization that collects and ships these cards & notes is Operation Gratitude. You will need register on their website and then you will be able to download the guidelines for your creations. Make sure you do this before you start creating because there might be a couple of instructions that are not obvious. 🙂
Our military and first responders love receiving handwritten notes and cards from from people that are grateful for their service!
8. Host a Food Drive
Another one of the Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities would be to organize a food drive in your neighborhood. Most neighborhoods have a Nextdoor online community. You could set up a drive on there, have a bin on your doorstep, and collect food for a week. Find a local pantry on Feeding America, then check the local pantry’s website for needed items to include in the food drive.
Remember to collect items that are not affected by adverse weather conditions. I suggest posting that you are having a drive in late October, so that your neighbors can pick up items during their normal grocery runs.
9. Donate to a Community Fridge
What is a community fridge? It is public refrigerator placed in an area of need that anyone can access. These fridges are all over the world! Their goal is to reduce food insecurity and food waste while building a stronger community. The concept is to “take what you need and leave what you can”. Check out Freedge to find a community fridge near you. Imagine filling up a community fridge at Thanksgiving…what a blessing you would be!
This post is all about the best Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities.
I hope you at least consider the idea of giving back this Thanksgiving. If you are traveling for the holiday and it doesn’t work for you this year. Think about planning ahead for next year and give others more reasons to be thankful for YOU!
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