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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunities: 6 Ways to Give Back This Year

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Remember to spread cheer where ever your holiday takes you.
  • Remember to spread cheer where ever your holiday takes you.

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude. But at its core, it's a season for sharing.

We often hear that Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for food pantries and soup kitchens--for fielding volunteers, anyway. Something about the holiday reminds people of just how lucky they truly are.

If you've already counted your blessings but haven't yet rounded off your list of places to do local volunteer work, check out ours. Each of the organizations below welcomes volunteers on Turkey Day but also offers opportunities for service throughout the year:

1. Special Thanksgiving Day Delivery Wesley House Association is looking for volunteers to deliver hot Thanksgiving Day meals to senior citizens. Wesley House, which has been around since 1903, delivers about 350 meals a day to senior citizens in the area as part of their Home Bound Meals program. Email or call 314-385-1000 for more information.

2. Playtime at St. Louis Crisis Nursery


The St. Louis Crisis Nursery runs five emergency shelters around St. Louis and St. Charles for children (0-12 years old) whose families are facing an emergency or crisis. If you're good with kids stop by on Thanksgiving, or almost any other day, and spend a few hours with a child who could use a warm and attentive friend. The Nursery has volunteer opportunities between 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 - 8:00 p.m., playing with children one-on-one or doing household tasks around the shelter. Contact Katie Corrigan at 314-292-5770 or visit their website. 3. Holiday Dinner and Cooking with Homeless Teens Epworth Children & Family Services has a myriad of volunteer opportunities throughout the year, for anyone interested in working with at-risk or homeless youth. But on Thanksgiving the 145-year old non-profit is looking for volunteers to cook (and maybe eat) dinner with teenagers at one of their residential centers. Call Margaret Mahan 314-918-3330 or email to discuss Thanksgiving and other opportunities.

4. A Different Kind of Food Pantry (Good for families with children)

  • Wikimedia Commons

Operation Food Search is the largest distributor of food in the St. Louis area and they're used to accommodating the Thanksgiving-volunteer-rush. In addition to distributing food items to families across Missouri, Operation Food Search provides winter coats and personal-care items to people who cannot afford them. If you can't get away on Turkey Day, consider assembling food items, coats or "care kits" to donate later. Visit their website or call 314-726-5355 for more information.

5. Dinner with Larry Rice and His Homeless Ministry There are plenty of soup kitchens in the St. Louis area but dinner at Reverend Larry Rice's New Life Evangelistic Center might give you the opportunity to learn more about a ministry that's often in the news. The New Life Evangelistic Center is looking for volunteers to bring specific menu items and join down on their luck congregants at their center downtown for a holiday meal. Visit Rice's website or call 314-421-3020 for more information.

6. Reading Partners Sought at Gateway 180 Shelter:

  • Via Gateway 180

Gateway 180, a shelter for homeless women and children, always welcomes volunteers of all stripes and varying time commitments. The shelter, which focuses on quick rehousing, is especially interested in assembling "guest readers" to regularly partner with children who are learning to read or to stop by their Midtown shelter just once for storytime. Contact Carrie Clark at or 314-231-1515 to talk about their opportunities.

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