8 WAYS TO GIVE BACK THIS THANKSGIVING

SPREAD THE LOVE WITH THESE HOLIDAY VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES AROUND AUSTIN

BY RACHEL COOPER

Published: November 17, 2017
 

Giving back on Thanksgiving is a holiday tradition for many families, and whether you’re old or new to the volunteer scene, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the capital city. From feeding the homeless to helping out at the Turkey Trot, these eight volunteer opportunities provide a glimpse of what you can do to serve the Austin community on Thanksgiving and year-round.

Turkey Trot

Nov. 18-23
Austin’s annual Thanksgiving Day tradition sees more than 20,000 participants each year and has raised millions for Caritas of Austin to help those in need. If you’d rather not run in it, help make sure things run smoothly by volunteering with packet pick-up before the event or setup and other opportunities day-of.

Generation SERVE Family Volunteer Day

Nov. 18
New to volunteering or looking for a way to get the whole family involved? Generation SERVE is hosting its inaugural Family Volunteer Day event to encourage the power of volunteering together in the community on Saturday, Nov. 18. Sign up for an hour-and-a-half slot from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and try an array of hands-on service projects suitable for everyone the age of 3 and up to see the needs of the community and what works best for your family.

Austin Empty Bowl Project

Nov. 19
Celebrate the 10th anniversary of this Thanksgiving event that brings potters, restaurants, musicians, and the community together to fight hunger. On Sunday, Nov. 19, friends and families are encouraged to come to the event where you can buy a hand-crafted bowl (to keep!) for $20 and have it filled with soups from local restaurants while listening to live music. Proceeds go to Meals on Wheels and the Central Texas Food Bank programs specifically aimed at ending childhood hunger. Stop by to enjoy the event at the Central Texas Food Bank from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or sign up to volunteer for a two-hour shift.

Operation Turkey

Thanksgiving Day
From humble beginnings in 2000 with one meal handed out by Austinite Richard Bagdonas, this volunteer-based program has grown to 13 cities with 40,000 meals delivered to homeless last year. With a goal to deliver 50,000 meals across the organization this year, you can help out here at the home base on Thanksgiving Day to assist with packaging, deliveries, serving, and clothing donations.

Central Texas Food Bank

Year-round, excluding Nov. 23-26 & Dec. 24-26
The largest hunger relief organization could use your help to provide meals to families during this food-centered holiday. Volunteering is closed to the public Nov. 23-26, but there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer both before and after the holiday, from sorting and packaging at their warehouse or at a mobile food pantry. Can’t find the time but want to give? Every dollar donated will be matched from now until the end of the year, and just $1 can provide four meals from the food bank.

Gobble Gobble Give

Thanksgiving Day
This nonprofit dedicated to feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving has roots in 12 cities across the country, and has been serving the homeless community in Austin since 2014. Volunteers are asked to bring a dish of food, five small toiletry kits, and clothing and blankets to help not only feed but care for those in need. RSVP to volunteer to organize, sort, assemble, or drive at the Thanksgiving event.

Meals on Wheels

Thanksgiving Day and year-round
Each year, the volunteer food delivery service delivers a fresh Thanksgiving meal to almost 500 Austinities who would otherwise spend the holiday alone. Meals on Wheels of Central Texas is looking for volunteers to drive and distribute meals on Thanksgiving morning from their downtown location from 11 a.m. until around 1 p.m.—sign up to this fast-filling opportunity soon!

Donate Blood

Year-round
Sit back, relax, and give back by donating blood this holiday season. The center says they experience a big drop in donors the weekend after Thanksgiving, so make an appointment and head over to one of their three donation locations with eligible family members. One pint of blood can save up to three lives, and all you have to do is lend an arm and you’ll get free snacks, as well as an Alamo Drafthouse pass or a beanie at participating locations.