Give Thanks, Then Give Back: Where to Volunteer This Holiday Weekend

Local opportunities are aplenty

The day for gathering with loved ones, dining on turkey and fixins,’ and watching football is nearly upon us. What’s more satisfying than those stomach- and heart-filling traditions? Giving back.

Fortunately, the upcoming holiday weekend provides plenty of opportunities to help others in need. Here are seven ways to work off that extra serving of pumpkin pie while doing good:

The Midnight Mission Thanksgiving Brunch
WHEN: Thursday, November 27th, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Midnight Mission, 601 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles
WHAT: The Midnight Mission Thanksgiving Brunch will serve thousands of men, women, and children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the Skid Row area of downtown. Several entertainers, like Dick Van Dyke, will join the more than 300 volunteers in preparing and serving food. Not available that day? The Midnight Mission will happily accept donations of food, clothing, and money—or all three.

Westside Thanksgiving Community Dinner & Celebration
: Thursday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., with volunteer shifts starting as early as 6 a.m.
WHERE: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, 11301 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
WHAT: Since 1982, this free sit-down Thanksgiving dinner has provided not only a home-cooked meal, but haircuts, blankets, clothing, hygiene kits, and a children’s carnival as well—and it is open to all members of the community. Event organizers are looking for volunteers to donate time, but contributions in the form of non-perishable food items, clothing, and money are also encouraged.

Union Station Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park
: Thursday, November 27th, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Pasadena’s Central Park, 275 S. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena
WHAT: Union Station Homeless Services has been hosting this annual event, nicknamed the “Biggest Potluck in the Nation,” for four decades. Thousands of meals will be provided to homeless men, women, children, seniors, and low-income families. If you can’t make it to the big event, make an impact by donating a pie from The Village Cookie Shop, which employs individuals living with mental illness, or by contributing items on the organizers’ dinner menu wish list.

Food On Foot
: Thursday, November 27th, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
WHERE: 1625 Schrader Blvd., Hollywood
WHAT: Healthy, delicious meals, bus tokens, and new sleeping bags will be provided by volunteers to more than 600 homeless and poor individuals in Hollywood. At the end of the day, graduates of Food On Foot’s newest program, Work For Food, will be honored in a ceremony.

Fred Jordan Mission’s Thanksgiving Feast in the Streets
WHEN: Thursday, November 27th, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: 445 Towne Avenue, Los Angeles
WHAT: Fred Jordan Mission is hosting its 70th annual Thanksgiving Feast in the Streets. Tables will be set-up on Skid Row in the middle of Fifth Street downtown where hundreds of the area’s homeless can have a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal with all the trimmings. Though volunteers are welcome, Fred Jordan Mission is also seeking donations in form of an unwrapped and unused children’s gift to be handed out at their annual Christmas dinner.

One Incredible Family’s 21st Annual Homeless Feeding
WHEN: Saturday, November 29th, 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Westchester Masonic Center, 7726 West Manchester Avenue, Playa Del Ray
WHAT: One Incredible Family is hosting an event on Saturday where do-gooders can prepare meals to be served at different shelters in the area. Donations of cooked turkeys, pies, rolls, juice boxes, and water are requested.

Gobble Gobble Give
: Thursday, November 27th, 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: Santa Monica (The Raven Spa, 208 Pier Ave, Santa Monica) and Echo Park (The Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles)
WHAT: Last year, Gobble Gobble Give handed out more than 3,000 meals to the homeless. This year they will deliver meals in Echo Park and Santa Monica. Volunteers are asked to bring a warm dish, toiletry kits, and clothing and blankets. Gobble Gobble Give is looking for helpers to work in the kitchen and deliver meals.