During my freshman year, my whole dorm building adopted a family in need. For a whole week, everyone contributed canned and nonperishable foods to the family, and we even sent them a card. Later, we found out the family had enough food for a month.
Volunteering gives you a chance to share with others and gives someone something to be thankful for. Here are organizations, events and places to jump start your volunteering services this Thanksgiving.
For starters, the Union Station Homeless Services host Thanksgiving dinner in the park every year. It's one of the biggest potlucks in Los Angeles. The volunteers cook, set up tables and serve Thanksgiving meals to homeless people. If you can’t make it out on Thanksgiving, the organization also has Christmas dinner in the park. Thanksgiving volunteer registration is open now, so register online on its website.
The LA Food Bank always needs volunteers to help sort and pack food for delivery. Operation Gobble! is a three-day long event where volunteers can sign up for specific days and times. Volunteers help make food packages to send to more than 23,000 low-income senior citizens, women with infants and children in Los Angeles County. Just a few hours of your time can help make the distribution go faster. Sign up for different time slots through its website.
For those who want to help but have big Thanksgiving plans, Gobble Gobble Give is a great event that requires volunteers to help cook and bring food to the homeless. The event usually starts the day before Thanksgiving and ends around 1 p.m. on the holiday. There are two locations: one in Los Angeles and one Santa Monica. The volunteers do different tasks, but anyone can take on any tasks they like such as warming the food the day before, driving food directly to the homeless and boxing the meals with other necessities.
If you really have no time but still want to contribute to the community, make a donation. Some places already have their volunteers list full, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need anything. Food, clothing and personal care items are always in demand, so save some of your reusable T-shirts or jeans, and donate them:
Food on Foot: Your money not only helps with food costs, but it also goes toward driving to the streets and personally giving homeless people their goodie bags. The money is also used for Food on Foot’s Work for Foods program that allows people in need to work and earn meals.
The Los Angeles Mission has a list of specific foods and supplies they always need. Every year, volunteers and celebrities serve more than 3,000 pounds of turkey.
Fred Jordan Missions hosts a grand feast to feed more than 2,000 people. You can also donate one of their Boxes of Hope, which are kits they put together for adults or children. You can also host a food and clothing drive with your friends, school or church and donate the items.
Also, make sure you check out your campus’ volunteer programs. Gather a group of friends, and volunteer for an event together. UCLA has a volunteer center for students, and USC has few programs to fit students’ commitment and time. Cal State University Northridge’s United We Serve has students volunteering for different events and hosting food drives.
Lastly, if you’re part of the Greek system, have everyone work together and host an event to get more students to contribute to the community.