Thanksgiving has become about stuffing your face and starting your holiday shopping. But if you’re staying in the District over break, it’s also a great time to give back to the community.
From soup kitchens to puppies to parades, here are some ways to volunteer and make your holiday break fulfilling.
D.C. Central Kitchen
425 2nd St. NW
Practice your culinary skills and help the community at D.C. Central Kitchen. You can help prepare meals for low-income and at-risk District residents Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Preparing meals includes stirring, chopping, dicing and slicing. No previous experience is required, so don’t worry if you’re not a star chef. Volunteers can register online, and due to health regulations, volunteers are required to follow a certain dress code.
Food & Friends
219 Riggs Road NE
Spread your love of food by helping feed others. At Food & Friends, you can help package and deliver 3,500 holiday meals to those in the D.C. area. The mission of Food & Friends is to establish a greater community by providing food and nutrition counseling to people with illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer. The organization needs volunteers Monday through Wednesday to prepare the meals before Thanksgiving Day. Volunteers can pick from two jobs: food preparation or turkey box delivery. Food preparation includes getting food ready and packaging groceries, with shifts lasting two to three hours. Turkey box delivery involves distributing the turkey boxes to Food & Friends clients that live in the greater D.C. area. Drivers need to have their own vehicle, a valid license and a clean record.
On Thanksgiving Day, you can also volunteer to be a Thanksgiving pilgrim. Pilgrims help with the general flow of the day – from greeting other volunteers to helping load groceries and meals into holiday meal deliverers’ cars. All volunteers can fill out a registration form online.
5159 Lee Highway, Arlington, Va.
If you’re missing your pets back home or if you need some furry love, volunteer at Lucky Dog animal rescue. Lucky Dog holds adoption events over the weekend to show off their dogs to possible adopters. Adoption events are from noon to 2 p.m. on either Saturday or Sunday. Volunteers must arrive at 11:30 a.m. and stay until 2:15 p.m. Each volunteer is responsible for handling a dog and talking about the dog's qualities with potential adopters. New volunteers are asked to fill out a questionnaire before volunteering.
Lucky Dog is also partnering with Food & Friends this Thanksgiving through a program called Slice of Life. If you buy a pie through the Lucky Dog’s Food & Friends webpage, you will provide a day’s worth of food to a Food & Friends client. And for every dollar spent on pie, Lucky Dog will receive a dollar for veterinary care.
11900 Market St., Reston, Va.
More excited for Christmas than you are for Thanksgiving? Volunteer at the Reston Holiday Parade on Nov. 25 to help the rest of the community get in the holiday spirit. You can help pass out thousands of jingle bells to the parade's crowd from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or sign up to be a costume character and walk in the parade. The parade has been a tradition since 1991 and includes large balloons, similar to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and characters like Santa and Mrs. Claus. Sign-up for volunteers is online.