Not everyone has the luxury of getting to sit down at a full dinner table on Thanksgiving, so many charitable organizations in the Philadelphia area are looking for extra hands to help out with holiday events. If you have time, expertise, or money to spare, here’s a list of where you can lend a hand.
Make sure to sign up soon, spots tend to go quickly for Thanksgiving. And, this isn’t the only time you can volunteer — consider helping out in December or January if you’re going to be busy with family.
The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger connects people with food assistance and nutrition education, and has partnered with churches and emergency food providers this year to serve holiday dinners in December, which is perfect if you already have plans for Thanksgiving. For many locations, this is the largest meal they will serve all year, which means they need all the help they can get. Check the list at hungercoalition.org/holiday-volunteer-opportunities; new volunteer opportunities are posted frequently. You can donate money at hungercoalition.salsalabs.org/give. And: Before you show up to help, contact the food provider to make sure that they still need volunteers.
📍 Multiple locations, 📞 215-430-0555, 🌐 hungercoalition.org/holiday-volunteer-opportunities, 📷 @gpcahunger
This organization has been serving people experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia for more than 130 years. Thanksgiving Day volunteer slots are nearly full, but you can always view its calendar to sign up for another date. If you aren’t able to volunteer this year, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission is also looking for donations: The group is raising $30,000 to help pay for Thanksgiving meals. To see what other items the group needs right now, check its website.
MANNA brings food and aid to people at acute nutritional risk from life-threatening diseases. The group is always looking for volunteers, including working in the kitchen or delivering meals to homes. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for all volunteers. You can also make a one-time or recurring donation to MANNA if you’d like to help pay for meals instead.
The Omicron Delta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity is hosting its annual day of service on Thanksgiving at the Columbia North YMCA. The group is looking for volunteers to help with the free dinner as well as for donations of winter clothing, toiletries, COVID-19 safety gear, and money. Volunteers are needed on Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sort clothes, set up food stations, serve clients, clean up and break down stations, and help sort donations. Donations can be dropped off at any time during the YMCA’s usual operating hours. Register at eventbrite.com or contact the organization at email@example.com with any questions.
Rock Ministries is hosting its annual Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 25 in Kensington, and you can sign up to volunteer for one of two shifts (11 a.m.-2 p.m., or 2-5 p.m.). Or, you can take a look at its item list and help out by dropping off donations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your donation. Visit therockphilly.org or call for more information or to sign up.
One Warm Coat collects clean, gently used coats, so if you have old coats lying around, now is a great time to donate them. Philadelphia has nine drop-off locations, and there are others in Ardmore, West Chester, and King of Prussia. You can find a list of locations at onewarmcoat.org.
This Kensington soup kitchen serves meals to people experiencing homelessness, and needs volunteers and donations around the holidays. To inquire about volunteering, contact Kaitlin Slack by phone or email at email@example.com. If you can’t donate your time, consider checking out the group’s Amazon wish list, which includes items like underwear, diapers, toothpaste, and more.
Since 2005, the Broad Street Ministry has been providing services to those in need, and this year is no exception. Volunteers of all types are needed, including for its mail department, making personal hygiene kits, and as a personal shopper for guests. Sign up using its volunteer calendar to find a time slot and task that best suits you. Contact the group with any questions you may have. And if you prefer, you can also donate online.
The Share Food Program delivers food to more than 1 million people in the region, directly to their homes, each month. In order to keep up the scale of its operations, Share is constantly looking for volunteers to sort and pack food boxes and load up cars for home deliveries. If you want to help out but can’t participate in activities like lifting heavy boxes, Share is also looking for people who can use their own vehicle to go on home delivery runs for seniors and Philadelphians with disabilities. You can also donate your time from your own home, by making calls to confirm successful deliveries. Share also accepts donations online.
Want to get involved, but still can’t find the right opportunity? Philabundance has got you covered. Its South Philly Hunger Relief Center frequently posts new opportunities, and is looking for volunteers throughout the holiday season. The group also partners with local food pantries, shelters, and schools to post their volunteer opportunities, and you can filter your search to places near where you live. If you want to try something different, the group will help you set up a virtual food drive or fund-raiser of your own. And of course, there are plenty of other ways to donate: The group accepts money, food, stocks, and more.
This article has been updated since it first published.