Thanksgiving is a time when many people enjoy stuffing themselves at a festive meal, but not everyone is lucky enough to be able to do the same.
Members of the military on active duty, homebound seniors, hospital patients, and people experiencing homelessness are just a few examples of those who are in need of a little cheering up around the holidays.
Here are 10 ways to make a difference and give back on Thanksgiving.
If you know someone (or know someone who knows someone) in the military, you can send a letter or care package directly to them wherever they’re stationed.
If you don’t have any personal connections to soldiers, organizations like Operation Gratitude provide an address to send letters to and opportunities to fund care packages.
Don’t just give thanks to troops on active duty — veterans who have served in the past also deserve gratitude.
You can visit the US Department of Veteran Affairs’ website to find ways to volunteer in your area.
If you overestimated how many cans of cranberry sauce people would eat, donate them to a local food bank.
You can look up where your local food bank is and how to donate here.
Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver fresh, hot meals to homebound seniors. The entire delivery process is fast enough to be completed over a lunch break, so you can provide someone with their holiday meal while leaving plenty of time to enjoy your own.
You can learn more about volunteer opportunities in your area here.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen can involve everything from food prep to serving to washing dishes — things you’d be doing on Thanksgiving anyway, with the added bonus of helping those in need.
You can find your local soup kitchen here.
Through Family-to-Family, you can sponsor a monthly box of groceries for elderly Holocaust survivors, refugees, and families living below the poverty line to keep them covered beyond Turkey Day.
You can host refugees through Airbnb’s Open Homes project — why not host them at your Thanksgiving meal, too?
Many cities host turkey trot races on Thanksgiving morning in anticipation of the enormous feast to be consumed later in the day, but fundraising efforts from the runners also benefit charities.
Hospital patients who aren’t able to be home with their families on Thanksgiving would probably appreciate a friendly visit, and older folks in a nursing home might not have family around to go to. Brighten someone’s day by offering even just a few minutes of company.
It was only a few months ago that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and others left devastation in their wake. Help those still recovering the storm by donating to a reputable charity or sending supplies to a shelter.
Originally published on Business Insider.
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