Some people can’t enjoy their Thanksgiving feast without doing a side dish of altruism, such as serving up mashed potatoes at a soup kitchen or delivering a hot turkey dinner to shut-ins.
Many non-profits now vet their volunteers, and book Thanksgiving workers two weeks in advance. But there still are some volunteer opportunities for people who want to express their gratitude by giving back.
As these events get closer, it’s best to check with the sponsoring agencies to make sure they still need help.
▪ The Durham Rescue Mission already has all the preparers, servers and clean-up crew it needs for this year’s Thanksgiving Day dinner, but whenever it serves a big holiday meal, it depletes its food stocks and needs to refill. Donors can bring canned goods, rice and other non-perishables to the mission at 1201 E. Main St., Durham, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. In addition, the mission needs volunteers to work at its three thrift stores in town, and to set up and serve other meals at both its men’s and women’s campuses on days other than Thanksgiving. Call the Durham Rescue Mission at 919-688-9641.
▪ Each year, the Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh distributes baskets full of all the ingredients needed for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The baskets are built entirely from donated items such as uncooked turkeys, canned hams, sweet potatoes, collard greens, bread and dessert. The mission will collect the goods until noon on Wednesday, Nov. 22, or what the mission’s director, Sylvia Wiggins, calls Thanksgiving Eve. “If they want to volunteer and get a chance to meet some of the families who come to pick up the food, that would be OK too,” Wiggins said. Distribution begins at 2 p.m. on Nov. 22 at 623 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh, and continues until supplies are exhausted. The mission’s phone number is 919-829-8048.
▪ Raleigh’s Alliance Medical Ministry and StepUp Ministry need help shuttling baked goods for their joint fundraising event, Share the Pie, now in its third year. StepUp helps people find jobs, but often the work doesn’t come with insurance and the workers can’t get Medicaid. So they rely on Alliance for free medical care. To pay for the work they do, the two agencies have enlisted chefs from around the Triangle to bake pumpkin, pecan and chocolate pies, which customers order through sharethepie.org. The groups still need drivers to help deliver the pies to distribution centers in Raleigh and Cary starting at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 22. Volunteers should come in pairs and have a reliable car. You can also still buy a pie for $26 at sharethepie.org and pick up Tuesday or Wednesday. Sign up here or email email@example.com.
▪ The Raleigh Rescue Mission has enlisted enough volunteers to prepare, pack and deliver the 850 or so hot meals it will send out through this year’s Gobbles to Go, but the agency still needs donations of non-perishable foods for its Groceries to Go food drive. Gobbles to Go meal recipients, mostly housebound, elderly people who might otherwise go without a hot meal on Thanksgiving, also receive a bag of groceries for their pantry. Filled grocery bags need to be dropped off at the mission at 314 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.. Call the mission at 919-828-9014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to food, the mission has a list of other urgent needs here.
▪ The Smithfield Rescue Mission still needs a few people to help prepare and serve Thanksgiving Day dinner to residents of its men’s and women’s shelters. Volunteers are needed from 9 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m.
The mission also needs help Saturday, Nov. 18, packing baskets with all the makings of Thanksgiving Dinner for about 120 families in need. About 80 of the families will pick up their baskets; volunteers will be needed to deliver the rest. The work will begin at 9 a.m. at 523 Glenn St., Smithfield, and volunteers are asked to call the mission in advance at 919-934-9257.