Aromas of pumpkin spice and cinnamon fill our homes. Crackling fireplaces hold actual purpose in Austin this holiday season, with temperatures steadily dropping to legitimate fall weather. Thanksgiving peeks around the corner, inviting us to let go of the holiday chaos and give back to our community.
Austin is home to thousands of nonprofits, so get out there and connect with at least one of these charities, events, or groups during Thanksgiving season.
1/ Austin Empty Bowl Project
Austin Empty Bowl Project blends art, music, and food into a family-friendly community event. So on Nov. 18, 2018 from 11-3 p.m., head to Central Texas Food Bank to select a local artisan pottery bowl and fill it with gourmet soup from one of Austin’s participating restaurants. Sit back, slurp your savory soup, and take in the sounds of local musicians as the spirit of volunteerism oozes through the air.
6500 Metropolis Dr. – Website
2/ Feast of Sharing
Providing over 14,000 Thanksgiving dinners, H-E-B and United Way for Greater Austin need volunteers for the 29th annual Feast of Sharing. This is the largest community Thanksgiving meal in Austin, thanks to over 1,400 volunteers. This epic Austin feast is sure to nourish the soul, as you help nourish others.
This year’s event will be held at Palmer Events Center on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Volunteer shifts are available from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
900 Barton Springs Road – Website
3/ Operation Turkey
No child, woman, or man will be left behind this Thanksgiving, if Operation Turkey has anything to say about the matter. Since many homeless Austinites struggle with ease of mobility, traveling to food banks isn’t always a practical option. Operation Turkey is a 100 percent volunteer-run organization, with over 20,000 volunteers helping to make sure everyone gets a warm Thanksgiving meal this year.
How can you help be part of this tremendous surge of volunteerism? Mark these important dates:
- Volunteer orientations on Nov. 15 and 18
- Turkey Tailgate on Nov. 21: smoke 600+ turkeys, accept donations, stage food and supplies for the big day
- Thanksgiving on Nov. 22: Prepare, package, and deliver food to our neighbors in need
Multiple locations – Website
4/ ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot
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This event blends three of my favorite things: running, giving back, and sandwiches. Okay, you don’t actually get a sandwich after you run, but you do get all the feel-good endorphins for supporting Caritas of Austin during that five-mile community trek downtown.
With over 20,000 participants expected in the Turkey Trot’s 27th year, run–don’t walk–(you can totally walk) to support Caritas of Austin. The nonprofit’s mission is to help people have access to a safe home, education, healthy food, and jobs with reliable living wages.
Register to run or walk, or volunteer to help with the Trot on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving morning, at the Long Center.
701 W. Riverside Dr. – Website
5/ Saint Louise House Home for the Holidays
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After the sleepy turkey haze dissipates, wake up to a renewed commitment to keep the giving spirit going, by trying a different type of Black Friday shopping on for size. Sponsor a family through the Saint Louise House Home for the Holidays program.
This is a fun way to instill the spirit of volunteerism in your whole family, while bringing joy to another family that may have had a really tough year. Saint Louise House provides housing and wraparound services, intended to instill a foundation of empowerment in the female-led families the organization serves. This is about going beyond the bandaid issues of homelessness and digging out the roots.
Spread the Cheer All Year
With so many options, it can be overwhelming to actually start volunteering. This Thanksgiving holds a reminder to get out there and give back. However, you can also look beyond the season of giving and consider serving others in need year-round.
GivePulse, an Austin-founded company, gives local volunteers a platform to search for nonprofits that match their interests and schedules. Also, many online networks like Generation Serve and Austin Allies, as well as Facebook groups such as Community Helping Hands, are popping up to help Austinite volunteers and nonprofits synergize community impact, and share opportunities.
@theAustinot wants to know:
How are you giving back to the Austin community during this Thanksgiving season?
Krista Hager is a word, coffee, muscle, dance, and Austin enthusiast. Scattered in life, focused in business, she owns a small content creation agency and its sister site, a mom entrepreneur networking platform called Mama on the Internet.
The original version of this article was published Nov. 19, 2015.
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