How to Lend a Helping Hand for Thanksgiving

The L.A. Zoo is offering free tickets to people who donate hygiene items for the homeless at its ticket booths this week – just one of may ways to give back during the Thanksgiving season.

On Thanksgiving, we all reflect on the things we’re thankful for, and many of us also enjoy giving back and reaching out to others in our community who could use a helping hand.

This year, there are many opportunities for local Thanksgiving giving and helping.

Click to see full size flier.

First of all, one of the city’s biggest charitable organizations, which specializes in matching volunteers with other groups and people who need them – Big Sunday – is right in our own back yard.  Tomorrow, on Wednesday, November 22, from 9 a.m. to noon, Big Sunday will be holding its 6th Annual Stuffing Event at its headquarters at 6111 Melrose Ave. Volunteers can join in filling bags with delicious holiday food for thousands of hungry and grateful people, along with arts & crafts, music, breakfast and the company of other nice, giving people.  If you can’t volunteer, you can also donate food items for the bags.  Items still needed include canned yam, canned green beans, cornbread mix, stuffing mix (lots and LOTS of stuffing mix – since a large donation they were counting on fell through at the last minute!), gravy, mashed potato mix, canned cranberry sauce, fresh vegetables, pies and $10 supermarket gift cards for turkeys.  Or, even easier, you can donate $35 to sponsor a bag of food. To volunteer, donate food or money for a food bag, and/or start a food collection please sign up at the link above.

If you’d like to see what other local organizations are looking for volunteers, donations and/or funding for Thanksgiving, you can also check out the more than 100 other Thanksgiving opportunities on Big Sunday’s Holiday List. They include donating, packing, delivering, and serving food, fundraising, and much more – with many activities appropriate for all ages.

In addition to Big Sunday’s many opportunities, we’ve also heard about several other organizations where you can get involved or contribute to their much-appreciated holiday celebrations this week.

Alexandria House – which provides transitional housing for mothers and their children – will be hosting its annual Thanksgiving dinner.

The L.A. Zoo has partnered with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s initiative on solving homelessness by sponsoring a donation drive for the Skid Row Hygiene Center. Until Thursday, November 23,  zoo visitors can receive an adult or child Daytime Admission ticket for $10 by donating any of the following products at the Zoo admissions ticket window: towels, washcloth mini-packs,three-packs of socks (male or female, any size), three-packs of underwear (male or female, any size), baby diapers (24-pack or larger), adult diapers (24-pack or larger), feminine hygiene products (18-pack or larger), laundry detergent (liquid 40 oz+ or pods 30 ct +), personal care kits (5+ travel-size items in case), small travel bags (duffles, totes, etc.), or sweatshirts or sweat pants (any size).  All items must be NEW and in sealed packages or with tags.

People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) is once again holding an “Imaginary Feast” fundraiser…in which participants stay home and enjoy Thanksgiving with their families, and donate what they might have spent on a fancier restaurant meal to the organization.

St. Anne’s, which also helps homeless moms and their families with both shelter and skill-building, hosts Thanksgiving cooking lessons and a potluck for its residents, and would apprciate donations to support that effort.

St. Elmo Village, which helps its mostly low income community members build self-confindence and self esteem through the arts, is participating in a holiday fundraising challenge from the Newman’s Own Foundation to raise $50,000 to sustain the organization. The entrants that raise the most money during the campaign are eligible to win up to $150,000 in additional funds.

The San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission provides more than 29,000 nutritous meals to anyone who is hungry, as well as shelter, hot showers, and other basic essentials…all year long.  Community members can offer their time, talent and other resources – and a donation of just $2.05 can provide a Thanksgiving meal to someone who might not otherwise have one.  See the link above or call (818) 960-0405 to find out more.

And, finally, Wilde wine bar, 320 S. La Brea, will be teaming up with the producers of Jardesca on Wednesday, November 22nd, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a “Friendsgiving” event to benefit those badly affected by the recent North Bay fires.  ($1 from every cocktail and $5 from every bottle will go to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund). Also, if you make a reservation using the Wilde link above, with “Friendsgiving” in the notes, they’ll donate an additional 10% of your check).  The event will include wine cocktails, harvest bites and other Fall wines.  Jardesca will also be hosting a “Garden Fresh Mixology” DIY cocktail bart, where you can learn how to make great holiday wine cocktails, including “zesting and spanking” (yes, all good mixologists know how to spank the basil)…and more.

Also, please remember that all of these organizations need help all year round, not just during the holidays…so whether or not you pitch in for Thanksgiving, please consider the gift of your time and/or funding beyond this festive season.  The rewards and appreciation are just as great no matter when you contribute.

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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