Make Thanksgiving Extra Special This Year With These Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

thanksgiving volunteer

There is an abundance of Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities available, especially with countless charitable organizations operating in the United States alone. This Turkey Day, give back to your community and share the love with those in need. It’s the perfect way to spend the holidays while staying true to the spirit of Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving Volunteer Ideas You Can Try

For most people, Thanksgiving means carving a turkey and enjoying it with friends and family. If you want to make this Thanksgiving a little more special, though, why not spend your time volunteering? Volunteering on Thanksgiving is an excellent way to get into the spirit of the holiday and give back to the community at the same time. Not everyone has the same privilege or access to a delicious meal and a warm home; whatever little help you can do can go a long way.

If you don’t know where to begin, here are some ideas on where to volunteer for Thanksgiving.


1. Volunteer at a Feeding America Food Bank

Feeding America is a nationwide nonprofit organization that feeds millions through its vast network of food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, and pantries. Its network extends to all 50 states and is one of the largest of its kind, which means it’s always open to volunteers. Thanksgiving is its busiest time, though, so make sure to call ahead to see if there’s room for you. If the roster is full, they might ask for food donations instead. As a trusted organization, Feeding America is where you should start if you want to be a Thanksgiving dinner volunteer.

Learn more about Feeding America’s volunteer program here.


2. Serve at a Local Soup Kitchen

Local Soup Kitchen Volunteer

You don’t have to volunteer at a large organization to give back to the less fortunate. Start in your local area if you don’t know where to volunteer on Thanksgiving. Look for local soup kitchens that need extra hands.

Again, you might find they’re full this time of the year since Thanksgiving is when most people feel inspired to volunteer. Don’t let that discourage you, though. You can still donate food items or volunteer your time outside the Thanksgiving rush.

Look for a soup kitchen near you using this nationwide directory.


3. Volunteer at a Goodwill

Goodwill is a well-known organization, though you might be more familiar with its secondhand clothing stores. However, many people don’t know that Goodwill also provides workforce-related education and services. These include employment placement programs as well as job training services. Goodwill is the place to go if you want to offer your professional services pro bono.

Learn more about Goodwill’s volunteer program here.


4. Accompany Elders at a Nursing Home

Are you looking for Thanksgiving community service ideas? Try volunteering at a local nursing home.

Nursing homes are filled with residents who may not have families or companions to spend Thanksgiving with. You can fill those shoes, even if it’s just for a day or two. Something as simple as playing games or breaking bread with them is enough to bring a smile to their faces. Even just listening to their stories and age-old wisdom can go a long way.


5. Join Meals on Wheels

If you want to volunteer on Thanksgiving Day, try delivering food with Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit organization with programs throughout the United States. They work by preparing meals at a central location, where volunteers pick them up and deliver them to the doorsteps of seniors who otherwise can’t leave their homes. While at it, engage in a quick conversation with seniors to add warmth and care to your deliveries.

Meals on Wheels lets you volunteer according to your own schedule. It’s perfect for those busy this time of the year with only a few hours to spare. As with other programs, though, call ahead to get more details.

Learn more about Meals on Wheels here.


6. Donate Books to a Local Library or School

Donating books is one of the more unconventional ways to give back this Thanksgiving. Local schools and libraries, especially public ones, always need books and supplies. You can donate your own or organize a community-wide program to get others involved. If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, ask guests to bring and donate books to get them into the spirit.


7. Lend a Hand at a Local Animal Shelter

Another way to volunteer during Thanksgiving is to help out at a local animal shelter. This is especially perfect for animal lovers. You can play with your furry friends and get the word out for adoption. Every animal shelter or rescue is different, so call ahead to find out how to lend a hand.


8. Volunteer With the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is an international organization that operates in all 50 states. This charitable organization has a wide variety of initiatives, including providing job training and aid for veterans, homeless people, trafficking victims, and domestic abuse survivors. If you’ve ever seen someone on the street ringing a bell, they’re with the Salvation Army.

Learn more about how you can volunteer with the Salvation Army here.


9. Join a Cleaning Initiative

thanksgiving clean-up volunteers

When you think about Thanksgiving volunteer ideas, your mind immediately goes to feeding programs and soup kitchens. However, there are other ways you can give back to your community, such as joining a cleaning initiative.

You can make just as much of a difference by sprucing up the environment. Look for local programs that seek to clean up public parks and roads. You don’t even have to join an official organization. All it really takes is a trash bag and your time. You can invite friends and neighbors to join your cause and clean up a public space near you.


10. Donate Blood

Finally, blood banks always need donations, and donating blood is an excellent way to volunteer for Thanksgiving Day. You can go in alone or invite friends and family to do it with you. Circumstances permitting, you might consider organizing a blood drive with your school, church, or company.


So What Are You Waiting For?

As you can see, you can try many Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities this holiday season. While you don’t need to tick them all off, starting with one will certainly inspire you and make the holiday feel more special. It will also encourage you to do more for your community. As they say, volunteering is addictive.



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