Giving Back: Where to Volunteer on Thanksgiving


For most of us, having a home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving is a no-brainer. But what about the people who can’t afford such a luxury? Los Angeles is populated with thousands of low-income residents who don’t have the privilege of enjoying warm turkey and gravy on Thanksgiving—without your assistance, that is. Each year, thousands of Angelenos step up to provide those less fortunate with a wonderful Thanksgiving meal; some have even made taking time out of their own holiday to bring joy to someone else a yearly tradition. If you’re in the giving spirit this holiday, check out these local volunteer opportunities:

Westside Thanksgiving Community Dinner & Celebration

When: Wednesday from 1 p.m. to dark for set-up and Thursday at 3 p.m.

Where: VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System campus, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Westside

What: Since 1982 they have served the community with a free sit-down Thanksgiving dinner. And, as in years past, they’ll be offering additional services such as complimentary haircuts, blankets and hygiene kits. If you plan on volunteering the day of, feel free to show up at the VA campus at 3 when your help will be needed the most. If you’re unable to make it in person but would still like to show support, they are looking for large cans of green beans, gravy, cranberry sauce, and stuffing that can be dropped off at various locations found on their Web site.

Union Station Homeless Services Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park

When: Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Pasadena’s Central Park, 219 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

What: This tradition goes so far back that it actually predates the Union Station Homeless Services. The community members who founded the agency back in 1973 decided to start this Thanksgiving tradition in 1972 to serve the community’s homeless and low-income population. For years it was even dubbed the “Biggest Potluck in the Nation.”  Now, the Pasadena Convention Center is in charge of providing thousands of meals to Union Station for the holiday. Come help out on Thursday and make Dinner-in-the-Park a success once again.

18th Annual Gobble Gobble Give

When: Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (show up between 10 and 11:30)

Where: The Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; The Regent, 448 S. Main Street, downtown; and The Raven Spa, 208 Pier Avenue, Santa Monica

What: Gobble Gobble Give, a not-for-profit charity with 11 locations across the country, is expected to serve more than 20,000 meals nationwide this Thanksgiving—and set their Los Angeles record in the process—according to GGG founder Barry Walker. But the dishes won’t be served at a central location; instead, volunteers will help deliver individual meals—and care packages full of toiletries—to homeless people out on the street near three distinct sites in the city. If you want to hit the pavement and interact with the less fortunate this Thanksgiving, Goble Goble Give is your best bet.