Vegetable section of the farmer's market.

This Is How You Can Give Back to Your Community This Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is one of the best times to give back. The holidays are meant to be a cheerful time, and it’s important we give that opportunity to others who may be less fortunate than us. Get inspired this holiday season and try out some of these ways to give back to your community.

Start a Food Drive

Food drives don’t have to be the giantones you see in stores. Get your friends and family in on it and see what you have in your cupboards to take to the local food bank. Chances are you have some canned goods or boxed foods you can donate. If you want to make sure they can get into the holiday spirit, donate items like canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce or boxed stuffing.

Consider buying some food items to donate, too. Some staple items most food banks need are decently cheap, and it’ll make you feel good to help. Protein is always great, and if you have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership, you can get big cans or multipacks of things like canned beans, chicken and tuna.

Deliver Some Meals on Wheels

There are millions of seniors in America that are struggling with hunger and poverty. They may not be able to afford an assisted living facility, so they remain home — but likely with limited mobility. Taking meals to them not only helps them eat, but it could also be some of the rare interaction they get with people outside their family.

If this is something you enjoy and continue doing past the holidays, you can sign up for a certain schedule and route, giving you a chance to get to know these seniors and brighten their days —and it doesn’t really get better than that.

Help out at an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living facilities themselves definitely need helpers, too. Too often these places are understaffed, and they rely on volunteers to keep things going. Assisted living facilities can offer a variety of volunteer roles, like helping out in the coffee shop or restaurant, taking ice pitchers to the nursing wards and taking wheelchair-bound residents to activities or the beauty parlor.

Just like with Meals on Wheels, it’s a great opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face. You’re also helping out the facility and making things a little bit less stressful for them. That makes everyone happy!

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Soup kitchens see a lot more volunteers during the holidays, which is definitely a good thing. But let the season of Thanksgiving be more than just a couple weeks for you to give back. Find a local soup kitchen and start volunteering.

When the volunteers start falling off, and the holiday season starts winding down, let that inspire you to keep going and start giving back year-round.

Have Someone Join Your Meal

You might be surprised at the number of people who are alone during the holidays. Maybe invite that co-worker whose family is all far away or a local student who isn’t going to make it home for Thanksgiving.

More is always merrier when it comes to a big Thanksgiving meal, and who couldn’t use a little help taking on that turkey? No one likes being alone during the holidays, so make sure they don’t have to be.

Collect Items for a Military Care Package

For our heroes serving in the military, the holidays are sometimes spent very far from home. Put together a care package to send to someone serving overseas. If you can find nonperishable holiday foods like canned turkey, include those so they get a little taste of the holidays. Ravioli, granola bars and little boxes of cereal are all good options, too. Include some reading material or puzzle books for something fun and maybe some personal goods as well.

When you send it, include a postcard addressed to yourself so that the service member that receives your package can send it back as a thank you. It’s something that’ll put a smile on your face, and you can know that you helped to put one on theirs.

Thanksgiving is a great time to give back and help out others. It’s also a perfect time to start and get inspired to do it all year round. This year, make Thanksgiving special — not just for your family, but for others as well.