With Thanksgiving just a few days away, we're starting to reflect on all that we're thankful for, but instead of just listing your good fortunes and saying "Thanks," show your appreciation in a more meaningful way this year by volunteering. Thousands of New Yorkers will be spending this Thanksgiving with much less than you and I, so take the opportunity to put on a hair net, pick up a serving spoon, and give back. From dishing up dinner at local churches to delivering meals to homes, there are dozens of ways to volunteer this Thanksgiving in New York City -- here are 7 opportunities that still need assistance.
The Yorkville Common Pantry has been helping hungry New Yorkers for more than three decades. This Thanksgiving, a health, home-cooked meal will be served Wednesday, November 23 from 3:30 to 6:30pm. On an average weekday, the pantry, which pays special attention to nutrition and strives to make meals as health as possible, serves dinner to around 350 people, so help is needed to serve food and hand out groceries from the pantry. The Pantry also needs extra help during its weekday meals before Thanksgiving. 8 East 109th St., between Fifth and Madison Avenues (212-410-2264)
If you have a car, or the ability to rent one for a few hours, sign up to help God’s Love We Deliver to transport baskets of food to people’s homes. Drivers are needed to deliver specially-decorated gift baskets, plus the regular three course meal, to more than 1,500 homebound New Yorkers. All you need is a car and knowledge of the New York City streets (or Google maps). You can register here.
Like most city charity’s, City Harvest sees a tremendous amount of interest in volunteering on Thanksgiving, so almost all of the positions needed at their soup kitchens and dinner services are filled. But City Harvest’s greatest need for Thanksgiving, and throughout the whole holiday season, is non-perishable food items. Help out by donating a box of canned goods at one of the many participating locations: any FDNY or NYPD station, any New York City Modell’s Sporting Goods store or MCU branch locations, or the Daily News building lobby at 4 New York Plaza. Find a list of the most needed items here. City Harvest also lists numerous other ways to help.
Like City Harvest, the New York Food Bank filled all of its volunteer positions weeks ago, but as the city’s major hunger relief organization, canned foods and non-perishable items are still needed. You can host a virtual food drive online to raise money for the Food Bank or you can donate directly to the Food Bank‘s distribution headquarters. And of course, you can always make a financial contribution online.
The Real Life Church in Hunts Point in the Bronx will be serving up a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings this holiday, and volunteers are needed to help work the dinner from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.. In addition to the meal, guests will be able to “shop” for clothing donated by Dress for Success and NYC Clothing Bank. Volunteers are asked to donate personal care items as well.. To sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-644-8523.
New York Cares has an abundance of programs this week and volunteers are needed for everything from helping serve lunch at senior centers to bagging and distributing food at community centers. You can also extended your volunteering beyond Thanksgiving and help out at the 12th Annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square or a holiday market at the Selis Manor Shift II. Find a full list of New York Cares holiday volunteer opportunities here.