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How to Give Back on Thanksgiving

With food prices and hunger on the rise, giving what you can is especially important this holiday season. Here’s how you can help people and families for Thanksgiving in 2021.

How to Give Back on Thanksgiving

With food prices and hunger on the rise, giving what you can is especially important this holiday season. Here’s how you can help people and families for Thanksgiving in 2021.

This year, turkey production is down and prices are up; according to the USDA, the birds are about the most expensive they’ve ever been. And, as grocery prices are 4.5 percent higher than September 2020, the fixings will be more expensive, too.

With food costs and hunger on the rise, organizations across the city are ramping up their annual efforts to help families for Thanksgiving — offering ways for everyone to enjoy food and comfort during the holiday. The pandemic may still be exacerbating the need and making meeting it more complicated, but our community leaders are again delivering thousands of turkeys to families; distributing baby food and diapers; and stocking free fridges around the city.

Here, simple, meaningful ways to give back on Thanksgiving.

RELATED: How to help fight food insecurity in Philadelphia

1. Deliver turkeys

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 fourth year running, they teamed up with national volunteer-run Operation Turkey (pictured up top) to provide about 2,000 families with Thanksgiving dinner. Sign up to volunteer to help prep or deliver, or donate to help feed more families.


2. Stock community fridges

It’s time to super-stock Philly’s 30+ free community fridges — where anyone can take the food they need, no questions asked. Fridge organizers say that donations have been down this fall. Especially during the week of Thanksgiving, find one in your neighborhood (scroll to the bottom of this page for a list of locations) and give what you can.

RELATED: How to start your own community fridge in Philly


3. Bulk up care packages

Photo by Bench Accounting / Unsplash

For 25+ years, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., National Temple Baptist Church, and the Columbia North YMCA have worked together to help families in need on Thanksgiving. This year, they’re providing Covidcare packs (sanitizer and masks); winter packs (hat, gloves and socks); hygiene packs and pre-packed Thanksgiving meals. You can help by distributing flyers Saturday (11/20) from 1pm-3pm, and Tuesday (11/23) from 7pm-8pm; donating items for the packs; or donating money. Learn more and sign up to help here.

RELATED: How to help the homeless in Philly this winter


4. Support Indigenous people

Thanksgiving, and the myth it’s founded on, is a day of mourning for many Indigenous communities. During Native American Heritage Month, donate to local Indigenous organizations like We Are the Seeds and Indigenous Peoples’ Day Philly.


5. 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 eighth annual fall clothing drive and giveaway — 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.


6. Help everybody eat

Photo by Joel Muniz / Unsplash

Launched by powerhouse chefs Malik Ali, Stephanie Willis, Gregory Headen, Aziza Young and Kurt Evans during the pandemic, Everybody Eats is still providing Philly neighborhoods with free, healthy meals—and working on getting a space at J-Centrel. On Thanksgiving, they’ll be providing a hot meal and essentials (with music!) at the New Pilgrim Baptist Church in Camden, 10am-1pm. Help spread the word, volunteer day-of, or donate supplies (including PPE, feminine care products, baby care products) or money. Learn more here and reach out to [email protected] with questions.


7. Drop off a turkey

Photo by Ismael Paramo / Unsplash

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!) to help families for Thanksgiving. Drop off a frozen turkey—or a check made out to CityTeam Philadelphia — at one of these locations or donate money.

RELATED: 12+ great ways to help veterans


8. Build an outdoor, community living room

On Thanksgiving, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission is opening up their dining room to the public and transforming their parking lot into an outdoor (tent-covered) living room complete with heaters, lounge seating, and TVs to watch the game. They’re planning to feed 200-250 folks experiencing food insecurity — support the effort by donating or signing up to volunteer.


9. Make sure our pets eat, too

A man stops to play with a homeless man's cat on a rainy night in the city.

New York Giants Defensive Back Logan Ryan and his nonprofit, Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation (RARF), are teaming up with Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE) to set up a free community grocery store at The Neighborhood Center in Camden. Folks can pick up Thanksgiving groceries; Purina dog and cat food; wellness vouchers for free or low-cost veterinary care; and pet supplies like cat litter, leashes and collars. You can drop off grocery donations (give anything you would want at your own Thanksgiving table) and any pet related items at the Neighborhood Center, November 22 from 8:30am to 5:30pm. To volunteer during the event, November 23, 8am-4pm, email [email protected].


10. Run for the kids

Join Moon Jogger’s virtual race—meaning you can run, jog, or walk on your own time, anywhere you choose and report your own finishing time—this month and support Operation Underground Railroad in their efforts to end child trafficking and exploitation. Register ($20) here.

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