Tales of people giving their time to help others during the
holidays are plentiful this time of year. Read our story, "The Power of
," to see how some plan to reach out to citizens in need during
Thanksgiving and beyond.
Inspired by those stories of hope? There are plenty of ways
to give back if you feel so inclined, and some are as easy as clicking a
United Service Organizations offers various drives for
the cost of a phone call home
or call your local USO division to find out
how you might help directly. Yankee Candle Company is also this year selling
Thanksgiving-themed candles with scents like sweet potato. Part of the proceeds
from the candles go to support the USO's programs.
2. Invite Someone Over
Know of a lonely relative? A neighbor far from home? A
student unable to go home for the holidays? Consider offering up a seat at your
dinner table this Thanksgiving.
a Retirement Home
Retirement homes are likely to have at least some residents
who won't see family members during Thanksgiving. Determine what visiting hours
are first, and bring a small gift if you so desire — or simply give the gift of
at a Soup Kitchen
Soup kitchens see an influx of volunteers during the
holidays, but it's important to remember that hunger is a year-round problem.
Still, most soup kitchens are grateful for the extra volunteers. Call local
churches or check out Homeless Shelter Directory
to find local shelters, pantries
and soup kitchens.
to Food Banks
Chances are, you have extra cans of food in your pantry
right now. Go look. Now consider donating those cans. First, find a
local food bank
, then determine what it needs. Think outside the box:
Sometimes pantries are in need of non-edible supplies, like soap and
6. Respect Your Elders
delivers daily more than 1 million meals to the home-bound, and many
of those served by the program are elderly. According to data collected by
Meals on Wheels, the number of food-insecure senior citizens increased by 88
percent between 2001-2011. The organization is always looking for volunteers.
Hospitals don't take a break for the holidays. Call your
local hospital to find out if it will accept volunteers for Thanksgiving. Offer
to distribute food, bring small gifts to children or elderly, or simply sit and
visit with someone.
Can't get away from home this Thanksgiving? You can give
gifts of individual food items, feed a family for several weeks, or even
organize a virtual food drive through www.feedingamerica.org.
9. Find Time for Four-Legged Friends
If you'd rather spend your holiday with pets than people,
that's your prerogative. PetFinder.com
is one resource for people who want to learn how to volunteer with — or donate
to — animal shelters. It even offers information on how to foster needy
a New Cause
Websites like VolunteerMatch.org
provide resources for people who want to
help, but might not know exactly where to start. Search by city, causes you
care about — even browse by subject, such as disaster relief, literacy or
hunger. Don't see anything you like? Sign up for email updates about new causes
that might make a better fit.