Ways To Give Back On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

By Mary Burdick and Maya Hirani


As Thanksgiving and the December holidays are approaching, families all across America and the world are preparing to celebrate with their favorite activities and traditions. While some people enjoy preparing Thanksgiving dinner or watching football, this year, add a new tradition into to your family’s annual routine and volunteer. Whether it is volunteering at a local homeless shelter or participating in a turkey trot for charity, even the smallest of actions can make a huge difference for those who are in need. Not to mention, volunteering is extremely gratifying and a great way to connect with your community. Some ways to volunteer and give back this Thanksgiving include:

Serve a Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen

Reaching out to local homeless shelters and soup kitchens are a great way to reach out to others who are in search of a Thanksgiving meal. For those who don’t always know where there next meals are coming from, receiving a special meal on Thanksgiving above all days is a great feeling that really captures the spirit of the holiday. Volunteering at these food shelters has no cost yet is extremely rewarding to both volunteers and those who are receiving meals.

Run in a turkey trot

Give back this Thanksgiving by running with family or friends in a nearby Turkey Trot. Turkey Trots oftentimes have a small fee for each participant that is given to a local charity or food bank. Most cities and counties across Americas hold Turkey Trots, so there are several opportunities to join. If after doing some research you can not find any nearby, try organizing one in your town. Invite neighbors, friends, and family to join and donate for a selected cause. Not only will you be able to enjoy the fresh air and burn calories with your loved ones, but you will know that you donated for a good cause.

Donate to a local food bank or run a food drive

If you do not have a lot of time to share but still want to help out, donating to a local food bank or starting a food drive is the perfect way to get involved. As the holidays are approaching trips to the grocery start to become more frequent. While shopping, grab or ask a parent to grab a few extra cans of beans or vegetables to donate to your local food shelter. Giving these extra cans of food could greatly benefit those struggling to find meals. Another way to help is to reach out to your school or work place and ask a supervisor about running a food or can drive. Get in touch with a local food bank to find out what items are needed. Once given permission, grab a large box and decorate with a piece of paper describing the food items most needed by the food bank.  Even if only a few people participate those few cans could help feed a family!

Send cards to oversea troops

A great way to to show your thankfulness and appreciation towards your country is by acknowledging and saying thank you to those who defend it. Making homemade Thanksgiving cards with messages and sending them overseas to troops is an inexpensive yet thoughtful way to show your gratefulness to those who serve. This is a fun and creative project that can make those fighting for our freedom feel heartwarmed and appreciated. There are several organizations that organize letters to send to troops including Soldiers’ Angels, an organization that send thousands of letters and care packages to both veterans and deployed militants each year. Find out more here:

Soldiers’ Angels:

Deliver packages of food to the homeless or the elderly

Delivering and sending food packages to those less able or fortunate than you could make an impactful difference in their life. Several organizations are dedicated to helping the struggling by delivering packages such as Meals on Wheels.  Meals on Wheels is an organization that has been delivering food to high risk and disabled senior citizens who do not have the means to make get their own meals for over 40 years. This Thanksgiving, you and your family members can volunteer by delivering packages around your area. Learn more here:

Meals on Wheels:

Invite someone who is not familiar with Thanksgiving to your home

For those who are new to a community, a great way to make them feel welcomed is by inviting them to a celebration or gathering. Welcoming neighbors who are new to town or even  the United States to a Thanksgiving meal is a perfect way to complete a simple, yet very touching act of kindness. Although it is not considered charity or volunteering, including new people into a special holiday, such as Thanksgiving, can help form friendships and is very heartwarming.


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