Several organizations have already reached capacity for Thanksgiving volunteers, so check before you just show and consider these other ways to give back.
Every year on Thanksgiving Day, food banks and shelters receive an influx of volunteers. If you’re thinking of blocking out a few hours of your day to volunteer on Thanksgiving this year, consider this: Several organizations such as Bread of Life, Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, the Salvation Army and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission have already reached capacity for volunteers, so check with an organization before you just show up. “It’s the most popular day of the year for volunteers,” said Don Jensen, executive director at Community Lunch on Capitol Hill.
Sometimes the same volunteers return each year, so the organization doesn’t need new ones. “We actually have some groups of volunteers that rebook year after year. Some groups make it an annual commitment with family and friends,” said Torie Rynning, public-relations manager at Seattle Union Gospel.
If your help isn’t needed on Thanksgiving, think about some of these other options:
Volunteer any other day of the year: Meals are served throughout the year by many organizations that need volunteers every day. “In Seattle, it’s impossible for people in need not to feel cared for by the community during Thanksgiving, but on other days of the year, it may not be as obvious,” Rynning said. The days after Thanksgiving are great times to volunteer. If you’re looking to help serve meals, local organizations such as Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, Bread of Life, Jubilee Women’s Center and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission are always looking for new volunteers. To help sort donations, deliver food, or recover food from local businesses, reach out to your local food bank for volunteer opportunities. Be sure to register with the organization you want to volunteer with before showing up.
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Host a food drive: There are many organizations around Seattle asking for food donations this time of year. Organizations like Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline will provide supplies and guidance on hosting your own food dive or can suggest public drop sites. They recommend donating canned foods, peanut butter, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, beans and baby formula and food. As a rule of thumb, most organizations prefer nonperishable foods. If you cannot commit to hosting your own food drive, consider donating food to your local food bank or any public drop site.
Fulfill a wish list: Aside from food, there are plenty of other things people need. Clothes, hygiene products, baby supplies and other care products are always in demand and can be donated to organizations like Mary’s Place Seattle. Consider hosting a clothing drive or fulfilling a child’s wish list through YouthCare or Hopelink. Popular wish-list items include clothes, gift cards, shoes, bedding and makeup.
Donate money: Any amount can make a difference, especially this holiday season. If you cannot volunteer, consider a monetary donation to help feed or clothe someone in need. The Seattle Times is hosting its annual Fund For The Needy drive to raise money for local nonprofits serving seniors, children and families. Your donation helps programs in the Puget Sound area continue to serve those in need.