Thanksgiving is a great time to volunteer and reach out to help the homeless and hungry in your community—or in the community you're visiting during your holiday vacation.
If you happen to be in the Washington, D.C. area this year, there are plenty of charitable organizations that need volunteers to prepare, serve, and clean up holiday meals (as well as perform a variety of other tasks). If you're looking to give back this holiday season, there are plenty of ways to get involved and help, but you can also make a donation or participate in fundraising events.
These agencies are a great place to start your search as each of the following coordinate volunteer programs throughout the year in each city or county around the region:
In addition to these great year-round non-profit organizations, you can also get involved with the following volunteer opportunities over Thanksgiving week in 2018.
When it comes to giving back to the poor and hungry, SOME (So Others May Eat) goes above and beyond in the D.C. area year-round. The organization hosts holiday gatherings for program participants where volunteers assist with preparing and serving meals, playing games, and hanging decorations. You can also volunteer to assemble special Thanksgiving dinner baskets to feed struggling families or attend the annual Trot for Hunger in West Potomac Park starting at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day to raise money for homeless shelters around the city.
If you're looking to give back to those suffering from life-changing illnesses like those living with HIV/AIDS and cancer, Food and Friends is an organization that provides meals to support men, women, and children living with terminal or debilitating diseases and ailments. Volunteers assemble and deliver Thanksgiving meals, and in November, the Food and Friends organization sponsors "Slice of Life," a program that sells thousands of pies for the holidays to collect money to support local residents battling illnesses.
The Capital Area Food Bank is the largest, public nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resource in the region, and you can help out this holiday season by making a monetary donation or by delivering for the Brown Bag program, which prepares Thanksgiving baskets for needy senior citizens. The Capital Area Food Bank teams up with WHUR-FM, Howard University Radio, at Food2Feed to help feed those struggling with hunger in the D.C. region for Thanksgiving. A day-long broadcast from Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Reagan Building promotes the event.
Each year, Bread For the City organizes Holiday Helpings, a food drive, cash drive, and telethon to provide Thanksgiving meals to low-income families. As a volunteer, you can collect canned food and cash donations or help out at the processing facility by loading and unloading trucks of food. The organization provides comprehensive services for the needy, including food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services.
The international Christian organization known as the Salvation Army strives to improve the lives of the needy and provides a holiday meal each Thanksgiving known as the Feast of Sharing. This free Thanksgiving dinner is held at the Washington Convention Center for nearly 5,000 community members, and volunteers are needed to prepare and serve food and clean-up after the meal. Additionally, you can donate money or host your own personalized Red Kettle to gather donations from others if you'd rather help out in that way this holiday season.
The Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center (DC JCC) partners with D.C. Central Kitchen each year to prepare a free holiday meal for the homeless in the Washington metropolitan area. Volunteers prepare the Thanksgiving meal for people in need and are encouraged to bring family and friends to make stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and desserts then help distribute it and clean up afterward. You don't have to be Jewish to volunteer at the DC JCC—people of all faiths are welcome to donate their time helping others.
A variety of organizations sponsor turkey trots, runs, and walks to raise money for the needy in the D.C. metro area each year. You can participate on your own or organize a group and get some great exercise at the start of the holiday season while collecting donations for a good cause. Find an event in DC, Maryland or Northern Virginia. In 2018, there are plenty of turkey trots in the Washington, D.C. area to choose from including the Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger at Freedom Plaza (sponsored by SOME) and the Virginia Run Turkey Trot in Centreville, Virginia.