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Giving Back: How to Volunteer on Thanksgiving

>> Thanksgiving Guide

Amid the turkey preparation and pumpkin-pie recipes, don’t overlook giving back to your community on Thanksgiving. Here are ways to volunteer—just a few hours of your holiday can help bring a memorable meal to people who need it.


Community for Creative Non-Violence
The Community for Creative Non-Violence (425 Second St., NW), which provides basic needs to the homeless and poor, is looking for volunteers to help at its Thanksgiving dinner. Volunteers usually help carve turkeys, serve food, and spend some time with the estimated 2,000 guests. The event starts at 11:30, and the center doesn’t require volunteers to sign up. If you’re good with a carving knife and have some spare time on Thanksgiving morning, call 202-393-1909 for more information..

Bread for the City
Bread for the City’s Holiday Helpings program aims to give a turkey with all the trimmings to low-income families in DC. The goal this year is to provide more than 8,000 families with a meal. You can help by sponsoring a food drive at your school or office or volunteering at the organization’s two centers (1575 Seventh St., NW; and 1640 Good Hope Rd., SE). You can also make a donation—$28 can provide a meal for a family of four. To sign up, contact Nathan LaBorie at 202-386-7611..

Emmaus Services for the Aging
Every Thanksgiving, Emmaus Services for the Aging (1426 Ninth St., NW) delivers meals to and spends time with home-bound elderly citizens. This year, the organization will provide food to an anticipated 150 seniors from 10 to noon. For more information, contact Patricia Hughes at 202-745-1200.

Capital Area Food Bank
All year, the Capital Area Food Bank’s Brown Bag provides monthly bags of food to senior citizens in low-income housing and educates them about nutrition. If you want to help by preparing or delivering food during Thanksgiving, e-mail 

Food & Friends
Food & Friends, a nonprofit that helps feed people living with HIV, AIDS, and other illnesses, has its Slice of Life pie sale this season. You can purchase pumpkin, apple-crumb, sweet-potato, and pecan pies as well as chocolate cheesecake. You can also donate your time by volunteering at one of the 15 pie-pick-up locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Food & Friends needs volunteers on November 24 to fill shifts two- to three-hour shifts. For more information, contact Eliza Yoder at 202-269-6826.


Lead4Life Youth Dinner
Lead4Life, a nonprofit that works to empower DC and Maryland teens (ages 11 to 20) to make healthy choices, needs volunteers to serve at its youth Thanksgiving dinner at the Alfred D. Noyes Children’s Center (9925 Blackwell Rd., Rockville). Volunteers are also needed after dinner to do arts and crafts with the teens. The dinner will be held November 23 from 1:30 to 3. To sign up, call Jennifer Gauthier at 301-672-4319. All volunteers must contact Gauthier before attending.

Gospel Rescue Ministries
This nonprofit, which helps people dealing with substance abuse, hunger, and homelessness, needs volunteers to help prepare Thanksgiving baskets and serve meals during dinner at the Gospel Rescue Ministries Center (810 Fifth St., NW). For more information, contact LaToya Sorillo at 202-842-173, extension 244.  

Casa de Maryland
The largest advocacy and service provider for Latino immigrants in Maryland, Casa de Maryland is requesting uncooked ingredients (especially raw meat) to donate to its Thanksgiving dinner, which will be held in the parking lot of Leyla’s Bakery and Cafe (5607 Sargent Rd., Hyattsville) on Thanksgiving from 11 to 2. You can bring donations to Casa de Maryland’s Prince George’s Workers’ Center (7978-B New Hampshire Ave., Hyattsville). If you have food to donate, contact volunteer coordinator Maria Clara Samaniego at 301-431-4185. Volunteers are also needed to serve and clean up.


Thanksgiving Together Dinner
Thanksgiving Together is a ministry of Western Loudoun County churches that have had a free Thanksgiving dinner for the past five years. This year, the dinner will be held at Bethany United Methodist Church (100 W. Main St., Purcelville) from 11:30 to 2:30. In addition to food donations, volunteers are needed to serve the dinner and deliver meals to people who aren’t able to attend. You can also make a financial donation to the cause—any surplus funds will be given to Interfaith Relief, a Loudoun County organization that works to feed the hungry. If you’d like to volunteer, e-mail

Familiar with the roads of Northern Virginia? On November 23 and 24, the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry is looking for helpers to deliver meals to three or four families in the area who are affected by HIV. Food baskets will be distributed to volunteers at the NOVAM center (803 W. Broad St., Suite 700, Falls Church). To get more information, call Ann Granger at 703-533-5505, extension 14.  

FACETS, a Virginia group that provides housing support and emergency services in Fairfax, is putting together Thanksgiving baskets to distribute to families in need. Volunteers will shop for the items, arrange the baskets, and deliver them. E-mail if you’re interested.  

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