Make no mistake: Thanksgiving is best known for its great food and warm company. After all, who doesn’t look forward to the holiday for its sumptuous pies, home-cooked turkey and indulgent sides? Legendary feast aside, many people also associate the day with spending time friends, family and loved ones. While you may expect to spend the holiday eating and lounging around the dinner table, there’s another activity that holds special meaning on this day: volunteering. If you’re looking to commemorate this beloved holiday in a way that truly befits its name, give thanks forward. Check out one of these rewarding NYC organizations and get ready to give back in a purposeful way this month and beyond.
The Bowery Mission’s history goes back to the 1870s, when the organization first began serving the homeless and hungry in their namesake neighborhood, an area which later inspired the term “skid row.” Nearly 150 years later, the organization continues to serve men, women, and children who are caught in the cycles of poverty, hopelessness, and dependencies of many kinds. Recognized as one of New York City’s most effective results-oriented organizations, The Bowery Mission offers a variety of services to people experiencing homelessness, hunger, and poverty (and is located just a 15-minute cab ride from The Wagner). What’s more, this Thanksgiving marks the 140th anniversary of their holiday service, which will be marked by providing meals, coats, and hospitality to those in need. To sign-up for volunteering on Thanksgiving Day, use this registration link, which opens up on November 1st at 7 am. Keep in mind that Thanksgiving volunteer slots tend to fill up quickly—but don’t be disheartened! They welcome volunteers during all 365 days of the year. To learn more about volunteer opportunities during the week of Thanksgiving (or another time of year), visit this page.
Founded in 2008, New Alternatives provides critical support and services to NYC’s LGBTQ+ homeless youth. Recent data indicates that nearly 40% of the homeless youth population in NYC is LGBTQ+ and at a higher risk for experiencing bullying, sexual assault, violence, trauma, HIV infection, mental health disorders and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers. New Alternatives’ mission is to help these youths transition into a more stable adulthood by supporting self-sufficiency and providing a myriad of services including long-term support, community building activities, case management, education, and Sunday night dinners. While their Thanksgiving volunteer slots are already full, they are still in great need of help during their Sunday night dinners, which take place every Sunday night from 4 to 7:30 pm at their kitchen in Midtown. To register and view available volunteer times, visit their website here.
Gael Greene, a longtime New York magazine restaurant critic, and James Beard, a legendary chef and teacher, first launched Citymeals on Wheels in 1981 to provide meals and nourishment to the homebound elderly. Nearly thirty years later, the organization has grown to serve the homebound elderly of all five boroughs of New York with nourishing meals and vital companionship. While the organization offers service and volunteer opportunities year-round, the holidays can be an especially difficult season for isolated older people, and therefore an especially opportune and rewarding time to give back. Get involved by checking out their opportunities here.