Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away and for many it’s a time to celebrate family, friends, and of course, food. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, and pie are the staples of this holiday. However, for some families it’s a stressful time to put food on the table. In fact, every 1 in 6 people in America still face hunger today.
Food shelters and soup kitchens are always looking for help, and this time of year is particularly demanding due to the colder weather and financially insecure families wanting to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.
This leaves shelters understaffed and understocked with supplies many need. However, there are a variety of ways you can help the all the members in your community enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving!
1. Add extra items to your grocery list.
When you go on your next grocery run, consider buying a few extra items. Look for products that are on sale or have buy one get one deals, then donate extra food or necessities to those in need this season.
Common items every shelter needs:
- Bathroom Tissue
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Bottled Water or Juice
- Canned Meats or Fish
- Bread, Rice, or Pasta
- Canned Soup (this is great in the cold weather)
- Canned Vegetables
- Canned Fruit
- Boxed or Packaged Goods (ramen, mac n’ cheese, cereal, hamburger helper, etc.)
- Peanut Butter or Jelly
- Mixed or Canned Nuts
- Granola or Protein Bars
- Canola or Olive Oil
2. Give to a turkey drive.
Many food shelters, grocery stores, and other charities work together to collect frozen turkeys, and other Thanksgiving favorites for food insecure people. Typically these take place the weekend before Thanksgiving, and is a great way to give back. Turkeys are the focus of every Thanksgiving meal and it’s why thousands are handed out each year to families in need. In fact, the Connecticut Foodbank is holding a food drive on November 18th from 11AM to 1PM at Shoprite of East Haven. Many individual food shelters in local communities also hold turkey drives this time of year, just be sure to also bring gravy, boxed stuffing mix, and canned vegetables!
3. Give a meal.
Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen or bake a meal for your neighbors, it all makes a difference. Thanksgiving is not only the time to be thankful for what you have, but it’s a time to give back to others who may need it. If cooking is one of your passions and you have the extra time, consider giving a meal on Thanksgiving. You can find your local food bank here, just make sure to contact the food bank director and let them know you’d like to help give meals on Thanksgiving day.
4. Give warmth.
We all have busy schedules and some of us have limited budgets, but if you can’t afford the extra groceries or have no time to volunteer, why not donate your family’s old clothing?
Essentials such as, mittens, gloves, coats, blankets, and boots are needed this time of year for many to stay warm in and outdoors.
Additionally, many community centers such as, ministries, shelters, police stations, schools, and health clinics hold drives to collect coats and other winter essentials. Just be sure to check your local centers ahead of time because some collection drives only happen during certain dates or times. Of course, thrift shops are always a great place to bring gently used clothing.
You can also give to organizations that provide low income households with free or reduced heat. In fact, there’s a local charity right here in Stafford Springs that focuses on just that. It gets pretty cold up here in the winter time, and heating can be an expensive burden, but imagine how difficult it can be for families who are financially insecure.
Whether you give a little or a lot, it all makes a difference in someone’s life. The spirit of Thanksgiving is about giving back, coming together, and being thankful for what we have. Make a lasting impact on your community this season, choose to give back.