7 Volunteer Ideas for Thanksgiving

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Volunteering on Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be an all-day affair.  All of the following ideas can be done in just a few hours, so that you’re back in time to eat turkey with the fam.  And watch NFL…and maybe see Life of Pi…and take a nap. If you couldn't tell, we’re pretty psyched for Turkey Day ourselves. :)

  1. Serve dinner at a homeless shelter:  Homeless shelters need volunteers to prepare and serve meals for those without a home.  Whether or not you're handy with a frying pan, homeless shelters appreciate the extra help. Check out The National Coalition for the Homeless or The Salvation Army for ideas on where to help out. 
  2. Deliver a meal:  If you have a car (or if you can borrow a car from the rents’) consider volunteering with a local Meals on Wheels program to bring a hot dinner to those who aren’t able to join family or friends.  
  3. Run a Turkey Trot:  Turkey Trots are races that often benefit local charities, planned for on or around Thanksgiving.  Not only are these runs for a good cause, but they’re also a way to burn calories – which means you can definitely have that second piece of pumpkin pie. 
  4. Invite a Neighbor or Classmate:  Perhaps you know someone who may not be having a holiday meal.  Invite them to have Thanksgiving dinner with your family. 
  5. Take Dishes to Public Service People:  Thanksgiving is just another working day for public service people.  Take a few dishes to the local fire station or police department for the people on duty.  If you live in a small town, you could even call the non-emergency dispatch number and let the dispatcher know that anyone on duty is welcome to stop by your home for a hot meal. (Just check with your family first, or this could turn into one of the crazier Modern Family episodes.) 
  6. Visit a Hospital:  Visit a local hospital and spend time with the sick patients there.  Make sure to call in advance (or go online) to find out about volunteer policies.  Worried that entertaining strangers will be awkward turtle (or should we say, awkward turkey)?  Think of a specific activity you could do with the patients.  For example, you could bring a picture book about Thanksgiving to read in the children’s ward.    
  7. Visit a Retirement Home:  Elderly people often spend T-Day without their family, especially if their kids live far away.  Help ease their loneliness by visiting them and spreading the Thanksgiving cheer. 

Eat smarter on Thanksgiving. GO