How to volunteer and donate in Philadelphia during the Thanksgiving season (2016 edition)

It’s been a rough November so far in Philadelphia. But groups who work with the underserved didn’t stop for the SEPTA strike or the election or anything else that’s been thrown our way. And they still need your help, whether it’s in the form of volunteering your time, your money, your food or your expertise.

So we pulled together a list of organizations that could use a helping hand in one way or another this Thanksgiving season. (If you know of a Philadelphia organization that would like to be added to this list, please reach out to us at contact@billypenn.com.) These are the organizations that could use your help:

1. Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger

This Philadelphia-based nonprofit is working to connect volunteers on the holiday and throughout the holiday season with more than 30 locations across Philadelphia including churches, food pantries and soup kitchens. Click here to see a list of all those opportunities. Be sure to call the site ahead to time to ensure they’re still in need of Thanksgiving volunteers.

You can also support the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger by taking part in the Eagles Online Healthy Food Drive, which benefits the Coalition.

2. The African Daughters of Fine Lineage

Every year on Thanksgiving Day, the African Daughters of Fine Lineage hosts an event at the Municipal Services Building across the street from LOVE Park where homeless men, women and children are invited to have a hot meal and receive care packages of donated items and non-perishable food. They’ll distribute more than 600 meals between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

If you would like to volunteer, RSVP in one of the three ways:
1. By reserving a space through this invitation.
2. Via email to mlk365@globalcitizen365.org – please put Thanksgiving Volunteer in the subject.
3. Call 215-851-1806 to reserve a space.

The group is also in search of the following donations for Thanksgiving:

  • New men’s underwear (all sizes)
  • Socks
  • Wool Hats & Scarves
  • Individually wrapped snacks (cookies, crackers, candy, etc. for the take away packages)
  • Individual cans of soda

3. Arms of Alpha

The Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc – Omicron Delta Lambda Chapter lead an annual Thanksgiving Day program in conjunction with the ODL Foundation, National Temple Baptist Church and the YMCA. The group will pass out meals and donated goods at the North Broad YMCA at 1400 Broad St., and they could use volunteers to complete a shift from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Volunteers will help with setup and sorting of the clothes, setting up food stations, serving people as they come in to enjoy dinner, helping with clean-up and breakdown and accepting toiletries, clothing and food donations.

To volunteer, register here. The group is also in search of donations especially winter clothing, coats, long sleeve shirts, jeans, shoes, new undergarments and sample-size toiletries. They accept donations the day before — Wed. Nov. 23 — at National Temple Baptist Church on Master St. between 16th and 17th streets, and at the YMCA the day of the event.

4. MANNA

MANNA is running its Pie in the Sky program, an annual fundraiser the organization does every Thanksgiving, and this year it’s selling some 8,000 baked goods to raise money for the holiday season. All you have to do is pick your pie here (choices like apple, pumpkin, pecan and sweet potato), then set a pick-up day and a pick-up location which include local bakeries and other partners.

According to MANNA, money raised goes directly toward preparing and delivering meals, along with counsel and hope, to people at acute nutritional risk from a life-threatening illness such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, HIV/AIDS and more.

5. Philabundance

A representative from Philabundance tells us the group is booked with volunteers over the  month of November, but the group may need help sorting the high amount of food that comes in during the month of December, especially following the group’s annual Camp Out for Hunger event — the country’s largest single-location food drive. Last year, the drive had more than a million pounds  of food donated.

Check back at the Philabundance volunteer page to sign up for sorting shifts, and learn more about donating to Camp Out for Hunger, here. Here’s Philabundance’s warehouse after the drive last year:

6. Helping Hand Rescue Mission

The Helping Hand Rescue Mission at 610 6th St. doesn’t serve a meal on Thanksgiving Day, but instead works with community families living in deep poverty who live in PHA apartments and are able to cook for themselves, but not always able to afford the food. Typically, the group donates between 100 and 200 turkeys and baskets the week before Thanksgiving. This year’s giveaway is on Wednesday, Nov. 16. You can find more information here.

7. Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission

A representative from the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, located at 302 N. 13th St., told us the group has volunteer opportunities around and after Thanksgiving and well into the Christmas season. But the main way people can get involved is by hosting a drive to collect donations at work, school, a church or elsewhere. Print out fliers for your drive here.

The group has three types of drives it asks people to organize:

  • A food drive that collects specific types of food or ingredients
  • A clothing drive (the big need is undergarments for men and women)
  • A toiletry drive

You can host a drive, and then bring the goods to Sunday Breakfast’s facility during weekday hours.

8. United Way of Southeastern PA

United Way doesn’t have one specific volunteer project on Thanksgiving Day however, throughout the holiday season, the nonprofit helps match volunteers with a variety of opportunities through its Holiday Network. Opportunities range from packing and serving Thanksgiving meals and building gingerbread houses with kids to buying, sorting and wrapping holiday gifts for families in need. A United Way spokesperson said the group’s Volunteer Portal connects volunteers to a wide range of service opportunities throughout the year.

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