Are you interested in giving some of your time to the community this Thanksgiving? Below you’ll find many ways to get involved with deserving local charities and help ensure that the entire Austin community is well fed and loved on this special holiday.
Where to Volunteer this Thanksgiving
Families come together over the holiday, which means their food needs increase. Food pantries and service agencies play a vital role is providing these families the food they need to fill the gaps, and Central Texas Food Bank serves 300 of them throughout 21-counties.
In the weeks before Thanksgiving, volunteer to sort food donations at the Food Bank to prepare for distribution through its partner agencies across Central Texas. Warehouse volunteers help ensure all of the food we distribute is safe, healthy and high quality by inspecting, cleaning, sorting, boxing and making food donations ready for distribution.
Volunteer shifts are typically 2 ½ to three hours long and are available Monday through Saturday. Each shift can host up to 120 volunteers, with limited space for youth volunteers, ages 8 years old and older.
VOLUNTEER: Sign up and view available shifts at CTFB’s sign-up page.
GENERATION SERVE FAMILY VOLUNTEER DAY: November 17
Generation Serve will host its 2nd annual Families Give Back Family Volunteer Day event at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex. The event is a free, city-wide event for families to come learn more about our community’s needs and sample service projects in eight different service areas like animal welfare, environment, helping people, helping kids, helping seniors, health and wellness, and more.
Activities will vary by service area, but Generation Serves says the event is a chance for families new to volunteering to “sample” service activities rather than the organization’s usual, hours-long projects. The idea is to sample service activities around the room that meet the needs of nonprofit organizations from all over Austin.
VOLUNTEER: Families must pre-register for a specific shift at generationserve.org/
ROUND ROCK FAMILY VOLUNTEER DAY: November 17
Family Volunteer Day & Nonprofit Volunteer Day is open to the public and projects will benefit 10 area nonprofits. This event of offered by The Volunteer Center and will take place at the Baca Center in downtown Round Rock. Families, children, and groups of all ages are welcome to help with crafts, hope jars, projects, creating shelf safe meal packs for the holidays and more.
AUSTIN EMPTY BOWL PROJECT: November 18
The Austin Empty Bowl Project is the perfect combination of art, food and community, and it all benefits the children’s hunger programs at Central Texas Food Bank and Meals on Wheels and More. Attendees purchase a handcrafted bowl for $20, local restaurants fill it with soup and you stay and enjoy the music. Plus you get to keep the bowl!
Volunteers on the day-of must be at least 16 years old and be willing to spend at least two hours working at the event. For potters, your bowls must conform to certain specifications; they also ask that you complete a donation form.
DONATE: If you’re not a potter but you’d still like to contribute a bowl, visit one of the participating pottery studios before November 16 and let them know you’d like to decorate a bowl to be donated to the Empty Bowl Project. Great for families and groups.
VOLUNTEER: Sign-up here.
With almost 20,000 people participating, the Thundercloud five-mile race is one of the largest Turkey Trots in the country! All proceeds benefit Caritas of Austin, which supports local refugees, low-income and homeless people. ThunderCloud has raised more than $2.5 million for Caritas since the event began in 1991.
Of course, you can sign up to run five miles on Thanksgiving morning, but the event needs more than 650 volunteers, too. Sign up to help with packet distribution, man a water table at the race and more.
VOLUNTEER: Visit the event page to sign up.
H-E-B FEAST OF SHARING: November 20
Feast of Sharing, taking place at the Palmer Events Center, is the largest community Thanksgiving meal in Austin. H-E-B provides 14,000 meals to hungry Austinites with the help of 1,400 volunteers who plate and serve food, do crafts with children in attendance, and many other tasks. All volunteers should expect to be up and moving around for their whole shift, and many jobs require carrying trays of food or drinks.
Volunteers must be 14 years old or older. Some tasks require a minimum age of 18. People can volunteer either 3-6:30pm or 6-9pm.
VOLUNTEER: The registration form along with all the information about parking, minimum ages, and volunteer roles is available online here.
OPERATION TURKEY: November 21-22
Volunteer to serve a hot meal to people experiencing homelessness across Central Texas, from Round Rock and Cedar Park to Austin and San Marcos.
There is no age limit to volunteer and everyone is encouraged to help.
HOW TO SIGN UP: Sign up to volunteer the day before Thanksgiving or the day of by visiting Operation Turkey. This year’s goal is to serve 75,000 meals, and if you wish to assist you can also make a donation online.
MEALS ON WHEELS AND MORE: November 22
Each year, Meals on Wheels has hundreds of home-bound Austin clients signed up to signed up to receive holiday meals. Not only are you delivering their Thanksgiving meal , but you are also giving them the comfort and company everyone should have on Thanksgiving. Great for families and friends, sign up to deliver as many meals that day as you can handle.
HOW TO SIGN UP: Volunteers will need to a driver’s license and more. Register now to make sure you’re ready on Thanksgiving day. Learn more here
For more information on local volunteer opportunities, please visit the GivingCity website for a comprehensive guide to doing good in Austin.
*Cover photo from the Central Texas Food Bank Facebook page