If you want to do something more than just get day drunk on Thanksgiving, consider donating time, food, or money to an organization that helps people who struggle to find a meal on Thanksgiving—and every other day, too.
Chances are, your neighborhood has a food bank or meal service that would be happy to take your money, nonperishable food, or time. Look them up, give them a call, and find out what they still need. Below, we've listed a few opportunities to help get you started.
But remember: 3,000 people sleep outside in Seattle every night. They and many others need food and services every day, particularly on days other than the holidays when the rest of us think to donate or volunteer. Consider not just spending Thanksgiving volunteering or donating, but setting up a regular volunteer schedule or a recurring gift.
Plymouth will serve Thanksgiving dinner to about 700 of its residents and is looking for donations, particularly of hams, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing, gravy, and nonalcoholic beverages. Sign up online and choose what you'll contribute. Once you do that, you'll get more information about where to deliver the food on Thanksgiving Day. (plymouthhousing.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 374-9409 ext. 135)
Instead of donating a turkey, this fund allows you to support the food bank in buying "the types of culturally appropriate foods that excite our guests most at a reduced cost." The online donation form allows you to buy the equivalent of one turkey for $20, two turkeys for $40, and so on. The Rainier Valley Food Bank also accepts food donations. (rvfb.org, email@example.com, 723-4105)
Around 100 people live in this homeless encampment, including some who were evicted from the area under I-5 known as the Jungle last month. The activist group Stop the Sweeps is organizing a Thanksgiving meal at the encampment and looking for food, drinks, tables, chairs, and people to help serve. (Thurs Nov 24, 3–6 pm, Airport Way S and Royal Brougham Way, firstname.lastname@example.org)
OSL is a grassroots meal provider that began in 1989 with sack lunches (OSL = "operation sack lunch"). The organization now serves nutritional meals across the city and expects to serve 2,200 meals on Thanksgiving, says OSL executive director Beverly Graham. Along with serving meals, the program rescues fresh food from waste and supplies other kitchens and meal providers with food. The group is still accepting volunteers for November 23 and 24 (Thanksgiving Day) and, as of press time, still needed 20 more turkeys. (oslserves.org, email@example.com, 922-2078)
Consider Volunteering or Donating on Any Day but Thanksgiving
"Everyone comes from the best of places," OSL's Graham told me when I called to ask where do-gooders should volunteer on Thanksgiving, "but people have to eat on more days than just Thanksgiving and Christmas."
Graham's organization works out of five kitchens and already had 43 volunteers signed up just for Thanksgiving. Consider contacting OSL, your local food bank, or any other service providers throughout the year—not just on the holidays.
Exercise for a Cause
The Seattle Turkey Trot is a 5K run that starts in the Sunset Hill neighborhood and finishes at Golden Gardens with all proceeds benefiting the Ballard Food Bank. (Thurs Nov 24, 9 am, seattleturkeytrot.org)
In Columbia City, Lotus Yoga is offering a class on Thanksgiving focused on thankfulness, where the studio will be gathering money and shelf-stable food donations for the Rainier Valley Food Bank. (Thurs Nov 24, 10 am, lotusyoga.biz)