It’s almost that time of the year when we all sit down and say what we’re thankful for before stuffing ourselves with a huge turkey feast. Actions speak louder than words, which is why volunteering your time and effort to the community and those who are in need is undeniably a more meaningful expression of gratitude.
Whether it’s a large commitment or a small gesture, there are countless ways we can share our blessings. If you find yourself in a fortunate position and want to help those in need, here’s a list of local charities that could use your time and effort this holiday season.
#1 Oregon Food Bank
Oregon Food Bank partners with organizations and people across Oregon and southwest Washington to end hunger and break down barriers that prevent equal access to employment, health care, affordable housing, and more. The organization collects and distributes food, helping ensure free food is available to everyone, especially focusing on marginalized communities affected by systemic inequalities.
Getting involved is easy and flexible. Whether you choose to help sort and repack at their Portland and Beaverton locations, provide support at their partner organizations, or advocate via phone calls from the comfort of your home, there are opportunities to volunteer almost every day.
This Thanksgiving, consider joining their dedicated team in making a tangible impact on the fight against hunger. Click here to volunteer at Oregon Food Bank.
#2 Potluck in the Park
Potluck in the Park is a heartwarming nonprofit organization that extends its mission from the holidays to beyond. No matter the weather, every single Sunday for the past 25 years, volunteers have come together to provide nutritious, warm meals and create a warm gathering space for those in need. Besides that, they team up with the Portland Art Museum and host a wonderful free annual Christmas Dinner.
To ensure that 400-800 individuals do not go hungry every Sunday, helping hands are needed with the following:
- Unload food and supplies
- Set up and organize in preparation for the meal service
- Serve cold or hot food to guests during meal service
- General clean-up
- Take down canopies and load supplies into the Potluck vans at the end of the service
Please note that volunteers must be 12 years of age or older to join this project and any volunteer under age 16 must attend with a parent or adult chaperone. If you want to join them in serving meals with genuine care and kindness, click here.
#3 Meals on Wheels People
Volunteering at Meals on Wheels People this Thanksgiving is an amazing way to make a difference in the lives of home-bound individuals in our community. You can be one of the program’s dedicated volunteers who deliver meals to those who need them most, right at their doorstep.
They deliver nutritious and delicious meals from Monday through Thursday and serve seniors who live in Multnomah or Washington counties in Oregon. They also offer medically tailored meals to support individuals who have chronic health conditions and Meals 4 Kids which serves qualified families and children within the city of Portland.
By lending a helping hand, you’re not only delivering a warm meal but also care and comfort to those who might be feeling isolated. To join them in spreading nourishment and kindness this holiday season, click here.
#4 Neighborhood House
Neighborhood House is a non-profit social service provider that brings the community together to help neighbors in need. They offer several life-changing, innovative programs for low-income people of all backgrounds and ages, including school-age childcare, early childhood education, and senior center and senior transportation.
They operate the largest community-supported food pantry on the city’s west side so volunteers are a vital part of their movement. The following tasks require additional support:
- Deliver food to community members
- Assist staff and help clients
- Repack bulk food
- Pick up donations from grocery stores
- Unload and sort donations
Your involvement will help create a meaningful and memorable holiday for everyone. Click here to dedicate your time, spread gratitude, and contribute to a positive change in the lives of local individuals and families.
#5 Portland Rescue Mission
Portland Rescue Mission provides safe shelter, nutritious meals, life-restoring programs, and vocational training to people in great need. This nonprofit organization has seven locations and is 100% funded by our community.
Every year, they feed those who live in the streets of Portland a hearty, warm Thanksgiving dinner. During the holidays, they are especially busy and volunteers are needed to help with various tasks, depending on the location where you volunteer. Some of the tasks you may be asked to do include:
- Preparing and serving meals
- Sorting and organizing donations (food, clothing, and other items)
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Providing support and encouragement to people who are going through a difficult time
Volunteering at Portland Rescue Mission is a great way to give back to our community and bring joy this season. If you’re ready to join them in providing hope for anyone suffering from hunger, homelessness, and addiction, click here.
#6 Sunshine Division
Sunshine Division offers free food and clothing to struggling individuals and families. Their SE Stark and N Thompson locations are open five days a week with additional 24/7 access through their partnership with the Portland Police Bureau. With these, they can ensure that food boxes are ready to be dispatched to those in need at any time.
During the week of Thanksgiving, the organization needs additional support in both of their pantry locations as they give away roughly 500 Thanksgiving boxes. As a volunteer, you can help them pack and distribute holiday meal kits. You’ll also get to engage with our community and witness the impact of sharing food.
Please note that volunteers must be 14 years of age or older to participate; any volunteer under age 16 must attend with a parent or adult chaperone. This holiday season, join them as they spread warmth and goodwill. Click here to volunteer at Sunshine Division.
A Few Final Suggestions…
Aside from volunteering, donating whenever and whatever you can is another wonderful way to make a meaningful impact. Whether that’s by collecting goods for your neighborhood food drive or delivering baked goods to those who work on Thanksgiving (animal shelter staff, firefighters, essential workers, etc.), there is never a gesture that’s too small. This Thanksgiving, let’s keep the tradition of giving alive and celebrate the holidays in a way that truly warms the heart.