From food drives to turkey trots, LA is giving back on Thanksgiving. Here's how you can participate


The season of giving is upon us: fallen leaves, autumnal weather and turkey mania. 

During the fourth week of November, millions of Americans get together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. While some boycott it, others make the holiday their own unique experience.

Watching movies, catching up with loved ones and creating new recipes are only part of the fun. Indeed, various local organizations and nonprofits use this time to recruit volunteers to help provide services and resources to those most vulnerable in the community.

From food drives to turkey trots, here is a list of volunteer opportunities open for the Thanksgiving holiday:

  • Dinner In The Park – Union Station Homeless Services, in collaboration with SoCalGas, will be providing community meals at the Union Station Adult Center, located at 412 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105. Since 1973, Union Station has been working to end homelessness through various programs, some of which include trauma-informed care, immediate housing and harm reduction services. The event will be held on three days: Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as small, private sit-down dinners for residents on Thanksgiving day. Volunteers can sign up on their website
  • Westside Thanksgiving – Since 1982, Westside Thanksgiving has provided a free, welcome-all celebration during the season of giving. Attendees will be provided with a warm plate of food, clothing items of their choosing to keep, and a “mercado” of perishable and non-perishable items. The resources are mainly aimed for students, low-income families, seniors and homeless individuals. However, all are welcome to partake in the festivities or volunteer. Volunteer registration opens Nov. 6 and can be done on their website. Volunteers can help on Nov. 22 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and two five-hour shifts from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. The event will take place in the West LA Center Civic Center at 1645 Corinth Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025. 
  • Turkey Trot LA – The Midnight Mission is a homeless shelter and resource provider based in Los Angeles and South Bay. A few services include family living, job training and education. The organization has been conducting the Turkey Trot LA for 11 consecutive years. Participants can choose between a 5K or 10K course and children can participate in a “Wibble Wobble.” An event t-shirt, medal and bib will be provided, as well. The race will take place in front of LA City Hall, 200 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, on Thanksgiving morning from 8 a.m. to noon. Prices vary depending on the race, but all proceeds will go to the Midnight Mission.
  • Gobble Gobble Give – Since 1998, Gobble Gobble Give has been delivering food, clothing and other essentials to homeless individuals across 18 cities on Thanksgiving morning. Nearly 33,000 meals were served in 2019, according to their website. Volunteers are asked to sign up and can provide a dish of food (preferably cooked), five small toiletry kits , clothes and blankets to suffice in colder weather. There are various drop-off locations in LA, a few include: Downtown LA, Crenshaw, Hollywood and Santa Monica. 
  • Thanksgiving in Venice – For 11 years, Lost Angels has been organizing to feed, and provide clothing and toiletries to residents in Venice. The nonprofit has served over 4,000 individuals, most of whom are unhoused, according to the event website. Besides monetary donations, Lost Angels is asking for warm meals, toiletries, clothing and blankets to name a few. The donation drive will take place Thanksgiving day from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. at 219 E Rose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90291. There is a $10 fee to RSVP.


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