Five Ways to Give Back this Thanksgiving (and Stay COVID safe)

Thanksgiving holiday traditions are something most everyone shares. We can all usually count on turkey (or tofurky), potatoes, cranberry, and family. While this year’s celebrations undoubtedly look different than years past, Thanksgiving remains a day of unification.

Together, we’re all feeling the sting and uncertainty of COVID-19. Thanksgiving, truly, is about counting our blessings. If you have many to count, consider those who have much less–and do your part to give them something to be thankful for. Those who struggle normally around Thanksgiving time are struggling even more so in 2020.

Organizations around the city have long-standing commitments to bringing a sense of community to those in need. This year, more than ever, you can be part of an effort to empower less fortunate communities by getting involved, and giving back, in the spirit of Thanksgiving.

City Harvest is built on the commitment to ensuring our neighbors never go hungry as the rest of the community feasts. This Thanksgiving is especially important to that end, as more people than ever are facing joblessness and the weight of unexpected medical bills.

You have the opportunity to spend some time before hopping on your own Thanksgiving Zoom meeting by doing something positive for the cause. It doesn’t involve leaving the house, and it could potentially rescue you from some family conversations you’d rather avoid (since we all know this year will undoubtedly spark some–ahem–passionate discussions.)

It’s up to you how you’d like to participate, and there are plenty of ways to do it.

  1. Get Crafty–Take a break from your regularly-scheduled quarantine hobby to make mini mesh bags at home. These bags will go back to City Harvest to pack fresh produce to dole out at pantries and drives around the city. They’ll send you the materials, all you need to do is make it happen.
  2. Spread holiday cheer–The pandemic has put an even heavier load on those who deliver food around the community. You can spread some merry and bright thanks and encouragement by writing out a greeting card. Again, City Harvest sends you all the materials, including a stamp. All you need to do is speak from the heart.
  3. Color them happy–Without committed truck drivers, the food would never get where it needs to be. The “Draw Hope to Drive Hope” initiative casts a light on the drivers who

ensure that donations are delivered. This is a great chance to do some de-stress coloring and give a little shout out to the workers who are truly making a difference.

A Home for the Holidays

While you might not be going home to family for Thanksgiving, there are tens of thousands of people in our city that don’t ever have a home to return to. The Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) is devoted to building a compassionate city by getting low-income families into steady homes. What better way to join the cause than lending some time during Thanksgiving?

The focus of this season remains on the unsheltered. That includes those whose only housing is the transit system, those with a history of mental illness or substance abuse, and for seniors. The Senior Center is specifically organized to contact 60+ year old clients daily, checking in on their wellness.

If you want to get involved in these efforts, you can fill out a volunteer registration form here, and get your name on this list just in time for the holidays.

New York Cares, Do You?

This Thanksgiving, New York Cares is finding COVID-safe ways to ensure people get a Thanksgiving meal. Whether it’s packing food for immigrant families and seniors, loading the truck, or delivering the meals, you can sign up to be part of this great chain of positive change.

While they are running their efforts on the ground, they’re strict about their health and safety measures in the wake of the pandemic. The organization has had such a positive turnout, they really have proved just how much the community cares. The virtual opportunities are currently closed, but you can get out, stay safe, and make an impact just in time for Thanksgiving. (#wearamask)

City Meals on Wheels

The elderly have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and are those that are most likely to spend the holiday alone. Volunteering through City Meals on Wheels gives you plenty of opportunity to show the love to our beautiful elders during the Thanksgiving season.

Volunteers can get involved by preparing or delivering meals, but the mission is also to feed the soul. You can get into the spirit while staying at home and crafting a beautiful handmade greeting card. These are delivered to the elderly in the city who are feeling isolated and lonely.

No artistic ability? No problem! A friendly chat is just as effective in letting elders know the community cares. Meals on Wheels also looks for volunteers simply for delivering a good old-fashioned phone call. Chat about your favorite Thanksgiving dish, your favorite Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, or anything else that strikes up with our incredibly experienced neighbors.

Remember, these people often live alone, so a friendly voice on the other end of the line can be an immense amount of joy in their day.

Gobble Gobble Give Give

This Thanksgiving-themed organization works every year to bring hot meals to those in need. Because of the virus, collecting food for the less fortunate had to be put aside.

But the show must go on. This year, they’re setting up outside the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and accepting COVID-safe curbside donations. This includes:

  • Canned & Pre-Packaged Foods
  • Pandemic Supplies
  • Toiletries
  • Baby Items
  • New Clothing & Shoes
  • New & Gently Used Blankets
  • New Children’s Toys

For a full list of accepted items, check out their website. If you plan to go, they ask that you register a time when they can expect you.

If nothing else, donate.

Organizations where you can donate:

Your donation will be directly translated into a family’s Thanksgiving meal.

Just $15 will prepare a Thanksgiving meal for a family of five.

A $15 donation goes into the pot for the goal of bringing at least 650 turkeys to families who otherwise can’t afford it.

They’re not accepting new volunteers, but they are accepting donations to help make a difference for unsheltered children and their family.

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