Volunteering for Thanksgiving During a Pandemic

For most of us, Thanksgiving is surrounded by a feeling of excitement as we go home to our families, cook and eat some delicious food, and don’t have to worry about classes for a week. However, for many people, this isn’t the case – it might be a time of sadness or distress for some families who are experiencing economic or food insecurity. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these existing problems are exacerbated, and we need to make sure to do more research on ways we can safely help those in our surrounding communities. However, there are still so many ways you can volunteer this Thanksgiving. 

  1. 1. Donate to a local shelter, food bank, or food drive 

    holiday dinner buffet at home

    Donating food is a way you can volunteer safely to help others while still social distancing. With the pandemic, many families are experiencing more and more food scarcity, and can’t afford to go bulk grocery shopping prior to periods of isolation. Dallas has operations such as the North Texas Food Bank and Operation Turkey that work to feed and clothe homeless people in the DFW area and ensure that everyone can have a hot meal on Thanksgiving. 

  2. 2. Send eCards to hospitals 

    There are doctors standing in the hallway of a hospital.

    Amid this pandemic, patients and healthcare workers are more isolated at hospitals and other medical care facilities, and could use all the encouragement we can give them. Children especially could use something to brighten up their day if they have to spend Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 outbreak in a hospital room. You can send Thanksgiving eCards to hospitals like Children’s Health in Dallas to let these kids and their doctors/nurses know that you’re cheering them on and are here for them!

  3. 3. Reach out to a senior you know 

    person comforting old man

    Seniors have been very hard hit by COVID-19, both physically and mentally. Some of them may have to experience this holiday season alone, which can be harmful to their mental health. Some cities across the nation have started “call a senior” programs, such as the “Friendship Line” in San Francisco, that connects volunteers to seniors in nursing homes. You can simply call your grandparents, or reach out to a local nursing home to inquire about ways you can virtually volunteer and help ease some of their loneliness during Thanksgiving.

  4. 4. Write letters to our essential workers 

    white paper with letters "love letters"

    Front-line medical workers are more vulnerable and stressed this Thanksgiving than ever before, and you can let them know you’re thinking of them by getting a group together and writing some thoughtful letters. A lot of them are probably working on Thanksgiving Day too, and may not get to be with their families. Companies like 826 Digital are helping students connect to essential workers and show their gratitude this Thanksgiving season! 

  5. 5. Stay connected within your community 

    Do more, donate

    Volunteer opportunities this Thanksgiving are scarcer this year, so simply reaching out and seeing who in your hometown or community around your school is in need of some food, shelter, or just company and someone to talk to this holiday season can be pretty impactful. A lot of people are more isolated this Thanksgiving due to the pandemic and knowing you’re not alone or just having a good, hot meal can help brighten someone’s holiday.

We’re experiencing a raging pandemic and an accompanying mental health crisis, and while we can’t go to food pantries, package meals together, and work in soup kitchens like we normally could, there are still ways we can help those who live in under-resourced communities. It’s just about getting creative and reaching out to local organizations, or those people we know in our lives who are struggling this holiday season.