Thanksgiving is the perfect time to donate your time, services or goods to those who are in need. Whether its delivering meals to the elderly, serving hot food to those experiencing homelessness, or bringing joy to those in assisted living facilities, there are lots of opportunities for you to help make the holiday special for less-fortunate Houstonians. Below is a list of organizations and charities that are in need of volunteer efforts this Thanksgiving.
Join thousands of participants Houston's largest Thanksgiving Day race benefitting BakerRipley. The event takes place in the Galleria area near Dillard's and features a wheelchair 10K and 5K races as well as a kids run/walk. Areas of volunteer opportunities include promotion, registration packet pick-up, cheering stations and more. The proceeds from the event go toward helping are nonprofit BakerRipley continue to offer community development services throughout Houston.
Over 35,000 Houstonians attend the annual Thanksgiving Big Feast at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The event, which was originally intended only for the homeless, has now also opened its doors to those who are unable to be with family on Thanksgiving. Volunteer shifts are available to help put on a traditional holiday meal that includes turkey, dressing and all the accompanying staples.
Sign up to work 7:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. or from 12:30 p.m. - 4 p.m., or if you aren't able to help the day of the event, consider collecting donations for City Wide Club to help event organizers purchase the food necessary to put on the event.
Interfaith Ministries coordinates meal deliveries to the city's homebound elderly through its Meals on Wheels program.
More than 4,200 Houstonians depend on the Meals on Wheels service for food every day. For some community members the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. Sign up to bring meals to area residents, along with a little cheer and some much-appreciated company. Meal pick-up begins mid-morning, and most volunteers have completed their assignment by early afternoon.
If you're looking for slightly longer-term volunteer opportunities, the Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston's Refugee Services Program is always looking for individuals or families to serve as mentors for newly arrived refugees — helping them practice their English, showing them around Houston, and generally providing emotional support as they acclimate to their new city. And what better way to help them acclimate than by inviting them to a good, old-fashioned Houston Thanksgiving?
Volunteer Houston coordinates special projects each Thanksgiving Day for local nursing homes, hospitals, and other long-term residential institutions. One way volunteers can help is by creating special holiday cards for residents. Hand-make your own from scratch using colored markers or construction paper, or buy a bunch from the store.
Fill out each one with caring messages, wishing the future recipient happy holidays, and bring them to Volunteer Houston so they can be distributed to where they're needed most. This is an especially great activity to do with young kids. Thousands of cards are needed, and each one will bring a little smile to the face of those who might be cut off from family connections due to health or circumstances.