As with every other tradition this year, Thanksgiving 2020 will be unlike any other before it. With hunger, not to mention isolation, on the rise, organizations across the city are ramping up their annual efforts to create ways for everyone to enjoy food and comfort during the holiday.
The pandemic may be exacerbating the need and making meeting it more complicated, but our community leaders will not be stopped: They’re delivering thousands of turkeys to families; distributing baby food and diapers; and putting together Covid-19 care packs.
Here, simple, meaningful ways you can join efforts to make all Philadelphians feel cared for this Thanksgiving.
It Takes a Village Foundation supports folks living in poverty, advocates for youth education and health, and raises awareness about homelessness in greater Philadelphia and Jamaica. For the third year running, they teamed up with national volunteer-run Operation Turkey to provide more than 2,000 families with Thanksgiving dinner. Sign up to prep and clean up; be a runner; or deliver meals. You can also donate to help feed more families.
Donate a Turkey
Every year, WMGK host and DJ John DeBella partners with Acme and CityTeam Philadelphia to collect thousands of turkeys (they brought in 11,000 last year!) for families in need. Drop off a frozen turkey—or a check made out to CityTeam Philadelphia—at one of these locations, or donate money.
Support beloved restaurants and seniors
Outsource the preparation of part (or all!) of your Thanksgiving meal to Philly’s top chefs—you’ll be supporting our independent restaurants and funding food shares for seniors. Giordano Garden Grocery’s thoughtful initiative features dishes by Ben and Robert Bynum of Relish Restaurant; Adan Trinidad of Jose Pistola’s; and Chef Marcie and Evan Turney of Barbuzzo. Check out the full menu here and order by November 23.
Send a Mighty TG Dinner
When the pandemic hit, youth writing non-profit Mighty Writers immediately pivoted to make sure their communities were fed. They’ve been distributing food from their five locations since spring—you can support their efforts to ensure folks get a wholesome holiday meal this Thanksgiving. $15 covers the cost of a meal for one family; $30 for two, and so on. Donate here.
Assemble Care Packs
For 25 years, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., National Temple Baptist Church, and the Columbia North YMCA have worked together to serve folks in need on Thanksgiving. This year, they’re providing Covid-19 care packs (sanitizer and masks); winter packs (hat, gloves and socks); toiletry packs and pre-packed Thanksgiving meals. You can volunteer to pack bags ahead of time: Contact Brother Amir Thorne at [email protected] or 240-997-1241, Brother Harven Auguste at 267-403-8937, or donate.
Buy Pie, Give Produce
Buy a sumptuous holiday pie and support free community produce shares through Bunny Hop PHL and Pie Baby’s collaborative fundraiser: Pre-order brown butter pumpkin with gingersnap crust; sweet potato, and gluten-free/vegan pumpkin pies by November 20 at 9pm. Prices are sliding scale ($20-$40 per pie) and all proceeds fund Bunny Hop’s work to distribute free, fresh fruit and vegetables to community members across Philadelphia.
Take Care of our Moms and Babies
You’re Beautifully Made Inc. supports moms and young children through their parenting classes, mentorship programs and more. During their seventh annual fall clothing drive and giveaway (taking place outside this year)—they’re making clothes, strollers, swings, baby food, baby formula, diapers, wipes, books and more available for free. You can donate new (or barely used) clothes and baby items, or send a check to support. Reach out to [email protected] or call 215-989-9115.
Help Everybody Eat
Formed by powerhouse chefs Malik Ali, Stephanie Willis, Gregory Headen, Aziza Young and Kurt Evans back in June, Everybody Eats gives out free food and essentials bi-weekly while building community in Philly neighborhoods. On Thanksgiving, they’ll be providing a hot meal and essentials (with music!) at the Camden Arts Yard, 10am-1pm. Help spread the word, volunteer day-of, or donate supplies or money.
Stock the Fridges
Mama Tee is preparing to super-stock all seven of their free fridges—where anyone can take the food they need, no questions asked—across Philly for Thanksgiving Day. And they’re raising money to open 20 more community fridges by the end of December plus a pop-up grocery store! Donate to help them make it all happen.
Support Indigenous People
Thanksgiving, and the myth it’s founded on, is a day of mourning for many indigenous communities. Lost Bread Co.’s Three Sisters Pie—spiced roasted squash with bean miso ganache baked in a cornmeal crust and topped with pepita-studded whipped mascarpone—raises awareness about indigenous food traditions and all proceeds support local indigenous arts organization We Are the Seeds. (Full disclosure: The author’s partner owns Lost Bread Co. and the two organized this initiative together.)
Share the Greenery
Have you noticed? Trees—their blessed shade, chirping inhabitants, spectacular colors this time of year—make us happy. ‘Tis the season to share the greenery: join the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in their fall tree planting extravaganza November 20-22 to help plant more than 1,000 trees, especially in neighborhoods lacking adequate canopy. No experience necessary, though proper Covid-19 precautions are (do not attend if you feel sick, wear a mask, bring sanitizer etc). Check out volunteering opportunities here.