FOOD FOR THOUGHT: 5 Ways to Make a Difference This Thanksgiving

Macys-ParadeBefore you park yourself on your parents’ sofa, remote in-hand, ready to watch the Macy’s parade, consider what Thursday, November 28, 2013 will be like for the many Americans who are hungry or homeless. World Food Day (Oct 16) recently reminded us that the world is approaching something like one billion people who are hungry, and that the rate of hunger in the US is the highest percentage of any developed nation.

The turkey and cranberry sauce can wait. Consider these ways to make a difference in your community this Thanksgiving:

1. Drop-off non-perishable food items for City Harvest
This NYC non-profit collects excess food from restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers, and farms and delivers the food to community food programs throughout NYC. Donate a box of canned goods at a participating location: any FDNY or NYPD station, any New York City Modell’s Sporting Goods store or MCU branch locations, or the Daily News building lobby at 4 New York Plaza. Find a list of the most needed items here | Other ways to help at City Harvest

2. Shop for groceries online for The Bowery Mission
This religiously-affiliated organization helps NYC men, women and children caught in the cycles of poverty, and dependency. You can donate food by shopping in their online grocery store, donate a “Blessing Bag” (personal-size hygiene items and cold weather clothing), or volunteer to serve food on Thanksgiving day or any other day of the year. Learn more

3. Bring a dish and deliver meals with Gobble Gobble Give NYC
This Harlem-area volunteer-powered organization helps homeless individuals in the area. Volunteers are asked to bring potluck dishes, toiletries, and clothing and blankets, and then deliver hot meals and care packages to the homeless around the city on Thanksgiving Day. All work is completed by 1 pm so you can get home to your own turkey in time! RSVP

4. Donate a winter coat to the New York Cares Coat Drive
This is the city’s largest volunteer management organization, running volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools. This winter, thousands of New Yorkers will have to make difficult choice between buying a warm coat or taking care of another basic need, such as putting food on the table, paying rent on time, or keeping the lights on. 90% of the city’s homeless population is relying on the donation of a coat this winter. Donations are accepted now through February 7.

5. Ask your dinner guests to bring a clothing or toiletry item for Sanctuary for Families
This non-profit is dedicated to serving domestic violence victims, sex trafficking victims, and their children by providing shelter and clinical, legal, children’s and economic empowerment services. Sanctuary for Families seeks in-kind donations year round – specifically, personal hygiene products, baby supplies, business attire and seasonal clothing. You can ask your dinner guests to bring an item from their suggested donation list. More info here

Not in the NYC area? Check out your local city government website for ways to help your community. Thanksgiving Day reminds us how grateful we are for our friends, family and community. How will you show your gratitude this Thanksgiving?