With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’ve already talked about the hard decisions people are making: to see or not to physically see family this year. It’s been a tough year and many people did not believe that we would be going through all of this for so long— we might have thought “if we wait this out, I’ll at least see family and friends for the holidays…”

But here we are. So understand that if you’re disappointed or frustrated right now, you’re not alone.

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

From struggling with distance and worrying about health, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to the holidays this year and the pandemic has put a strain on too many aspects of our lives. One major part of Thanksgiving that some of us may not consider, however, is one that has less to do with us as individuals and more to do with our communities.


With the need for social distancing and a large amount of worry around the spread of the virus, there have been fewer and fewer volunteers available to serve in countless places that need it especially as we come closer to holidays. Though places like food banks and donation centers that regularly need help, it has become even more important this year.

While families are trying to provide meals or preserve some semblance of normalcy, layoffs and other circumstances have left many people in need of extra help. Unfortunately, much of the support that used to be present no longer is. Even now, however, it is still very possible to volunteer safely and in some cases, from the comfort of your own home.

Thanksgiving has become all about gratitude, right? They say one of the best ways to become more grateful for what you’ve got is by volunteering to support those around you. So if you’re willing, what can you do?

Volunteer from home

Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash

With the concern for cases on the rise, especially right now, people are talking about working from home full time and of course, this extends to volunteering too. There are plenty of ways to do this and you might be surprised at how creative people can get. From volunteering with places like the suicide prevention hotline that always sees a rise in calls around the holiday season to helping manage a non-profit’s website page, the possibilities are endless and very important. If you follow this link here to the All For Good homepage, you can find plenty of options to volunteer from the comfort of your home— they don’t need to know you’re in your pajamas.

Donate to or volunteer with food pantries

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

This one is always relevant, but especially as we come into the food-centered holidays, food pantries need to stock up as they get busier. If they get busier, they also need extra hands to help sort through the food they get using safe practices and processes to make sure everything is going in the right places. Both Feeding America and Food Pantries can provide information on local volunteer areas and what those guidelines are looking like. More than extra help and food donations, they also need money donations that may impact what they can do immensely. Whatever you can do to help, think about it.

Donate clothes or toys

As the weather gets cooler and wetter, it becomes time to pile on the layers— for me, it’s also a reminder that when I pull on old jackets, sometimes they just won’t fit my long arms and it’s time to let them go. If they’re in good condition, that means they’re going to get donated. The wintertime and holiday season are the perfect time for clothing donations, especially if the clothes are in mid-good condition because you never know who may need what you have. If you aren’t using it, someone else may. The same goes for toys. I know I used to like to hold onto things, but if it is no longer serving its initial purpose, one great way to volunteer is to donate toys that children have grown out of. In my case, a lot of those toys were actually books, but it’s the same idea, right?

Deliver a meal and stay in touch

Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

If you’re up for cooking, one of the great ways to bring people together and make sure that others are taken care of is to cook for them. If you haven’t heard from someone you know in a while, call them up. Even if people aren’t able to go see one another the way we used to, there are still phones and video-chats to mitigate this even a little bit. I know it’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing at all. And when it comes to neighbors, we talked a little about this last week but there’s nothing wrong with cooking an extra meal and leaving it outside their door. People like to feel cared about or thought of and during thanksgiving, food is one way to express gratitude. If this is something you’re interested in doing, do so safely and consciously— be mindful of allergies. With neighbors, you can safely trade meals door to door and if you want to go bigger, you can even deliver meals in your community through meals on wheels. As always, check-in on those around you, especially those who are older or may be alone and know that one call or distanced conversation through a door may go a long way. 

Though it all may not seem like much, volunteering is still an option right now both in small and large ways. Some of it can be long term and some of it can be one-time things like cooking a meal for a neighbor or delivering food for those in the community.

Whatever you do, know that your impact matters and it’s all a great way to find a larger form of gratitude this year. So, from me to you, I’m wishing you all a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving next week. Know that I am grateful that you take the time to read my posts and I hope you have a good holiday.

Until next week.

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