Thanksgiving is usually a time for families gathering together in a warm, cozy home, eating big meals, chatting, relaxing, watching football, playing games and being thankful for each other and a plenitude of creature comforts. Not everyone can gather with family; not everyone has a home to gather in; not everyone has food to put on the table. In the last few years with the large number of jobs lost, the fluctuating economy and rise in foreclosures, donations of food and money and volunteers are needed more than ever to help those who have very little to celebrate during the holidays.

For those of us who have much to be grateful for, Thanksgiving is an excellent time to show our gratitude by giving back and helping pack and distribute food baskets and prepare and serve Thanksgiving meals. Volunteering the day of Thanksgiving is a great to spend the holiday if you don’t have family nearby to stuff your face with. If you’re lucky enough to have a house full of extended family there are plenty of ways you can give back to the community before Turkey arrives. Here are just some great ideas.

93442376 A Guide To Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

(credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Union Gospel Mission

77 East 9th St.
St. Paul, MN

Every Thanksgiving, the UGM provides a hot meal and warm fellowship to thousands of people, More Importantly, UGM serves up over 400,000 free meals each year. In order to serve so many in need, the UGM depends on volunteers to help prepare, serve, clean up and provide fellowship, etc. Contact UGM to see what way you can best give back and help those who are struggling.

girlringer A Guide To Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

(credit: Salvation Army)

Salvation Army

2445 Prior Ave N.
Roseville, MN

This is the start of a very busy season for the Salvation Army. In November, volunteers can start assisting with the Toys Shop Family Registration by entering data and taking phone registrations from families needing assistance. Of course, November is also the start of the Bell Ringer/Red Kettle Campaign. To sign up to be a bell ringer, call 651-746-3519 or check the website above.

107093672 A Guide To Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

(credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels

Cretin-Derham High School
550 South Albert
St. Paul, MN

This organization prepares and delivers over 14,000 hot Thanksgiving meals complete with all the trimmings including, turkey, cranberries, dressing, peas, potatoes, rolls, pumpkin pie and milk. These meals are distributed to over 2,700 families in need across the metro between 8:00 a.m. and Noon on Thanksgiving Day. Many, many volunteers are needed to accomplish this.

104161465 A Guide To Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

St. Matthew Lutheran Church

4101 Washington St. NE
Columbia Heights, MN

St. Matthew serves a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings from 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Call 763-788-9427 to volunteer to help with this meal or to provide transportation to and from the meal.

Little Brothers — Friends of the Elderly (LBFE)

1845 E. Lake St, Minneapolis, MN
1295 Bandana Blvd. N. Suite 165, St. Paul, MN

LBFE are looking for volunteers who can help with the large Thanksgiving meal hosted by LBFE. They need volunteers to drive diners to and from the event, prepare the meal, serve the meal, spend time visiting with those dining and deliver meals to those who are home-bound. You can find more information about these and other volunteer opportunities at the above website.

93305614 A Guide To Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities

(credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP)

9728 Irving Ave. S.
Bloomington, MN

VEAP’s goal is to meet basic needs and build stronger communities. VEAP stocks groceries and certificates to enable families to “maintain their own traditional holiday celebration.” They also provide hot holiday meals and fellowship delivered to elderly and disable who would otherwise be alone on the holidays. VEAP is always in need of volunteers, but especially at the holidays. You can register to volunteer to stock, pack and distribute food or goods, help with the Holiday Store events, host a collections drive, drive the VEAP van or your own vehicle to deliver holiday meals, etc. by going to the VEAP website listed above.

Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law. You can find Anna at, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.


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