Thanksgiving is a day where we take the time to feel grateful for all we have. If you’d like to pay it forward, here are some ways to give back this Thanksgiving.

Text by Jennie Tippett

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Volunteer

So many places need your help over the holidays. Volunteering at a soup kitchen is one popular way to give back to your community. You could also volunteer at a Children’s Hospital for a few hours. If your affections tend toward the furry and four-legged, you can volunteer at an animal shelter.

Volunteering at a retirement home.
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Visit

Some places need more than just volunteers. They need people to visit, too. It’s hard to be lonely during the holidays, and a friendly visit from a stranger will make anyone’s day. Patients in hospitals, retirement homes, and children’s hospitals are all welcoming to visitors on the holidays.

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Donate

Around Thanksgiving, the weather starts turning colder. Take the time to donate gloves and clothing to your local schools for children in need, or send items to a homeless shelter. Just call first to ask what they need. Of course, donating food to food banks for Thanksgiving is also a great idea. Animal shelters are also looking for food, toys, and towels to keep their animals warm.

Another idea is to bring Thanksgiving food to your local firefighters, hospital workers, or other emergency personnel who don’t get time off for the holiday. And, of course, children need toys year-round, not just at Christmas. Talk to your local children’s hospital or shelter that takes in children to see what they need. You can donate your blood or plasma, too.

Finally, charities are always open for monetary donations if you’d rather give that way. Some options are: Cancer Research Institute, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, the Conservation Fund, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors, and the Animal Welfare Institute.

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Organize

Why not organize your own charity event? Of course, you can do something like a food drive, but it doesn’t have to be big. Invite friends and neighbors over for a party to make different charity baskets and gift bags. You can make them for soldiers, the homeless or animals. Also, you can create a charity challenge among yourself and the people you know. Compete to see who can donate the most!

Baby touching woman's face
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Go Small

Giving back doesn’t always have to be a big ordeal. There are simple things you can do, too. At the drive-thru, pay for your own meal and the person behind you. Declare a technology-free period of time to spend with your family and friends. You could also babysit for a couple who hasn’t been able to get out in a while. Finally, you can invite that lonely neighbor or friend over to spend time with you and your family on Thanksgiving so they don’t have to be alone.

There are so many ways to give back during the holidays. Let’s show our gratitude for what we have by paying it forward.