The spirit of giving is never lost in the Houston community. It’s a known fact: When the going gets tough, Houstonians get to helping each other out. Now as the holiday season is coming ‘round, as is another surge in Covid-19 cases, our neighbors need our assistance more than ever. Here are a few places Houstonians can spread a little extra cheer through both virtual and in-person volunteering this Thanksgiving. 

United Way of Greater Houston

This Thanksgiving season, the United Way of Greater Houston is hosting virtual volunteers for its Days of Action. Through November 20, Houstonians and those in surrounding areas can volunteer at home with projects such as preparing Thanksgiving meal kits, holiday craft kits, and holiday hygiene kits, and writing virtual notes of encouragement. Folks can also donate financially if they don’t have time for a project. After the projects are completed, volunteers can mail or drop off their items to their closest United Way partner agency. Sign up here

Interfaith Ministries’s Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels’ annual Thanksgiving morning event will look different this year. But Interfaith Ministries and its band of volunteers are still committed to going over the virtual river and through the online woods to feed seniors and bring the holiday cheer in the Greater Houston and Galveston areas. Interfaith is offering five ways to give back this season: Volunteers can make friendly neighbor calls on Thanksgiving morning or “adopt” a senior and gift them their needed supplies through secret Santa gift bags. The Gobble Gobble Gang provides pet food for seniors’ furry companions and the Friendsgiving Team encourages everyone to start a peer-to-peer fundraising group. Your last option? Donate, of course. Learn more here.

Operation Turkey

Officially serving in Houston since 2013, Operation Turkey is continuing its mission to serve those in need—this year, the nationwide organization that began in Austin hopes to dish out 75,000 meals. The day before Thanksgiving, volunteers are needed to help prepare and package food, which will be delivered the next day. Volunteers will be required to arrive at one of the “Turkey Tailgate’s” various locations at 8 a.m. while wearing comfortable clothing and closed-toed shoes. When signing up to volunteer, Houstonians can choose what they would like to do, like cooking, cleaning, delivering, packaging, or plating.

Houston Food Bank

This year, the Houston Food Bank needs volunteers to pack quarantine kits and assist with food packing and distribution. Even after Thanksgiving, Houstonians can lend a hand with the Share Your Holiday event lasting November 30 to December 5. Donate food in red barrels at your local grocery store, or drop off your donation on December 4 during the Food Bank’s live event with ABC13 at Houston Food Bank East Branch, 535 Portwall St. Phone bank volunteers are also needed to sign people up for holiday food boxes. Sign up for volunteering here or make a monetary donation here.

Kids' Meals 

Kids' Meals has worked since 2006 to feed children who are not yet old enough for kindergarten and are too young to receive free breakfast and lunch through their schools. This year, volunteers are needed to assist with loading delivery vans with food and pack bag lunches, among other roles. You can also participate in and donate to various Holiday Hope 2020 programs, which include a Christmas gift card drive, a stocking stuffer effort, and the opportunity to decorate large Thanksgiving meal delivery bags.