It’s the time of year when giving thanks can come in many forms. Volunteering with a non-profit organization is one way to give back and show gratitude for the good that’s in our lives. Have a look at the myriad of options the city offers if you’d like to give thanks by lending a helping hand to those less fortunate this season.


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Gobble Gobble Give
Join the 500 volunteers who volunteer for this annual meal delivery program, and help them put together more than 200 meals for families and individuals living in low-income housing or shelters. Registration begins in early November.

God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD)
GLWD makes it their mission to feed those too ill to shop and cook. Every Thanksgiving, more than 1,100 volunteers with cars help by picking up meals and delivering them to the recipients. They’re looking for volunteers in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. Email to register.


New York Cares Coat Drive
This annual coat drive brings warmth to homeless and low-income families all over New York. Join in the efforts by donating lightly used coats of any size. Want to get more involved? Start a drive at your building, workplace, or school. The New York Cares website will be posting a list of collection sites located all over the city on November 14th.



St. John’s Bread and Life Sponsor a Family
This organization works with nonprofits throughout Brooklyn and Queens to identify 2,000 families in need of good meals and children’s gifts during the holidays. You can sponsor one of those holiday baskets for $125, and provide a needy family with food and children’s toys. If you want to give your time instead, consider volunteering at St. John’s food pantry and soup kitchens in Brooklyn and Queens.


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United for the Troops
Created by friends and families of troops serving overseas, United collects food, money and goods for the brave men and women serving in the U.S. Military. Help out by donating cookies, DVD’s, CD’s, snacks, t-shirts, and other nonperishable food items.

Bowery Mission
Offers its 62 beds to homeless men who are recovering drug and alcohol addicts. The organization offers meals, showers, clothing, and career counseling.


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City Harvest
Collects 16 million pounds of unused food every year from restaurants, corporations, and Greenmarkets, and gets it to those who need it, from single-parent families and senior citizens to soup kitchens and food-relief centers. Money goes toward truck maintenance and delivery costs. Read more.


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Volunteering at a soup kitchen over the holidays is a tradition in many families, but if you can’t make it yourself, you can still help out. Give to City Meals on Wheels, a group with a network of 120 centers around the city serving mostly low-income, homebound people. Every bit of money you give them will be put toward meal preparation (they do not take food donations) and delivery.


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Doe Fund
Employs and supports homeless individuals in their efforts to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. Among the initiatives: The Ready, Willing & Able program provides work experience and support services; A Better Place is The Doe Fund’s supportive permanent residence for homeless men and women living with AIDS.


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The Food Bank for New York City
The site notes that this is the nation’s largest food bank and largest distributor of free fresh produce, providing over 51 million pounds of food annually to more than 1,200 community food programs.


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Habitat for Humanity
Jimmy Carter’s Christian housing project builds for low-income families in Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.



Hamilton Madison House
Serving the Chinatown area, the organization tries to reach both the Asian and non-Asian community in its neighborhood with Head Start, adult education and other programs.


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The HOPE Program
This downtown-Brooklyn organization runs a job-readiness program to help homeless people become economically self-sufficient.


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The Legal Aid Society
The society provides legal assistance to low-income city residents in a variety of case types.


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Partnership for the Homeless
To help provide shelter, consider giving to the Partnership for the Homeless, a volunteer-run group that joins forces with churches, synagogues, and mosques around the city, maintaining 100 small overnight emergency shelters.


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Services for the Underserved
Working mostly in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, SUS offers help including home care for Medicaid patients and rehabilitative services for adults with developmental disabilities and down syndrome.



BARC Shelter
Play with dogs, for a cause! Several times a week, the BARC shelter holds an open house for volunteers to take their pups out for a walk. Also, BARC is always looking for old blankets and towels, so use that as an excuse to finally clean out your linens closet.