What makes Thanksgiving volunteering so great?
1. The whole family can do it. Even little kids can scoop food onto a plate.
2. You’re in, you’re out. Of course, this is not what GivingCity is all about – we’re about commitment! But when you have people in from out of town or kids off of school, and you want an activity you can all feel great about, helping with a Thanksgiving meal is a great one-off opportunity.
3. It’s a gateway to bigger volunteering. People who create volunteer opportunities know that hosting Thanksgiving volunteers in Austin is a great way to introduce more people to their organization’s mission. They lure you in with the fun of plastic gloves and hairnets, and they turn you into a lifelong advocate.
4. You feel the love. In most cases, Thanksgiving volunteers interact directly with the people they are (literally) serving. That’s the Holy Grail of holiday volunteer opportunities.
Because Thanksgiving volunteering is so dang popular, you’d better sign up now. Actually, you should have signed up last week. Go!
HOW TO GET HELP
There are two resources you can count on every year to provide a list of places where you can get a free meal on Thanksgiving.
1. Capital Area Food Bank posts a list of places around Central Texas that are serving free meals on or around Thanksgiving.
2. 211CentralTexas.org or calling 2-1-1 will also get you that list.
HOW TO HELP
El Buen Samaritano
With the goal of providing Thanksgiving-meal groceries to more than 1,000 families from two locations, El Buen needs lots of volunteers. This year’s Hands for Hope will provide groceries for families to cook their own Thanksgiving meals at home. Families register, then pick up the groceries at either El Buen in South Austin or at the North Austin Events Center on Lamar at Braker. Opportunities vary: Bilingual volunteers can help register families on the two Saturdays before Thanksgiving, Nov. 9 and 16. Every family qualifies, but El Buen wants to make sure the families are getting all the help they can. You can also volunteer to hand out the groceries on distribution day, Saturday, Nov. 23.
Austin Empty Bowl Project
Are you a potter or a pottery student? Here’s a great opportunity for you to donate some of your work for a great cause. This one-day event raises money for Capital Area Food Bank and Meals on Wheels and More by selling bowls filled with hot, gourmet soup. Even if you’re not a potter, you can volunteer to set up, serve and more. This event gets bigger every year so it’s a call for all hands on deck!
Meals on Wheels and More
Each year, Meals on Wheels has hundreds of home-bound Austin clients signed up to signed up to receive holiday meals. Not only are you delivering their Thanksgiving meal , but you are also giving them the comfort and company everyone should have on Thanksgiving. Great for families and friends, sign up to deliver as many meals that day as you can handle.
Thousands of meals, thousands of volunteers, thousands of homeless Austnites receiving warm food, love and compassion. That’s Operation Turkey in a pie shell. Operation Turkey volunteers can choose to prep, cook, package or deliver. Great for families and kids. Again, this one goes fast!
Turkey Trot benefiting Caritas of Austin
Sure, you can register to run this five-mile course, but did you know you can also help make it happen? Thundercloud Subs (love) has been putting on the Turkey Trot for more than 20 years, with all proceeds benefiting Caritas of Austin, a beloved nonprofit that offers food service, refugee and social service programs. Volunteers can support the participants or pitch in with a variety of activities from setup, water stops, parking, directions and cleanup.
Feast of Sharing
The Austin H-E-B Feast of Sharing Holiday Dinner is one of 27 dinners that H-E-B hosts throughout the state of Texas and will serve more than 250,000 people this year. As for volunteering opportunities, this is one of the most fun! I’ve been to FOS and seen how happy the volunteers were, how they loved being able to help their neighbors. The good news is, there are still slots left! Bring friends and family to help out with this pre-Thanksgiving event. You will not regret it.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes
Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ “A Feast of Giving” provides those in need with a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, this is another event that fills up long before you think to volunteer.
And I have to add… just about every faith-based organization in town puts on a free holiday meal for the community. Probably even the one in your neighborhood. And they’re always looking for volunteers. Walk into the office one day and inquire.