When asking some of my friends about their past Thanksgiving traditions, I was surprised that many told me they had chosen to volunteer to serve at local homeless shelters. They told me how happy and fulfilling it was to serve others.
It was especially touching to see those who didn’t have very much be so joyful.
Everyone said they wanted to go back and serve again, because to give on Thanksgiving truly made the holiday a special one.
If you've never thought about giving back on Thanksgiving, this year is the year to do so!
Here are five great places in the SoCal region you can volunteer at in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, or even on Thanksgiving itself:
1. Door of Hope | 669 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA.
Door of Hope provides long-term housing to homeless families and helps them rebuild their lives. Volunteer for a night and help cook and prepare dinner for the families who live there! You can use their kitchen or bring in food already made. Contact: Debra Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org / (626) 660-8731
2. Union Rescue Mission | 545 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA.
Union Rescue Mission is located on skid row in the heart of Los Angeles and serves about 2,300 meals a day! Come help prepare and serve breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Meal service volunteers are also needed at their Hope Gardens home for women and children. Contact: email@example.com / (213) 347-6300
3. Los Angeles Mission | 303 East 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA.
Volunteer on a weekday morning and come pray over the the beds that the homeless of skid row come to rest on. You can also write encouraging letters or notes to leave on their beds, so that as Thanksgiving approaches they feel thankful and loved. Contact: (213) 629-1227 ext. 337
4. San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission | 8756 Canby Ave. Northridge, CA.
Help serve meals to homeless families or host a "family dinner" by bringing food and preparing it at this mission! You can also opt to host a brunch on Saturday mornings. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / (818) 785-4476
5. Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission | 8165 San Fernando Rd, Sun Valley, CA.
Some of the ways you can volunteer your time for a day are serving hot lunches or dinners, cooking and preparing meals, sorting donated clothing and food, and cleaning facilities. There are breakfasts hosted every Saturday and BBqs every other Sunday that are also in need of helpful volunteers! Contact: Laurie Craft, email@example.com / (818) 392-0020 ext. 107
If you are unable to go out to volunteer, consider writing letters to those you are thankful for or even hosting a dinner in your own home or apartment! There are many people around you who do not have families to go home to, and it would mean so much to them to spend this precious holiday with you.
Remember, it is always far better to give than to receive!