While many of us enjoy the warmth of family and overindulging in a huge meal on Thanksgiving, some other folks are not as fortunate. However, there are ways you can help to make the holiday better for those in need -- by volunteering, collecting food and donating funds. And though it may seem most fun to help out by dishing up a Thanksgiving dinner to the needy, most charities are chock full of servers on the big day.
Here are a few other things you can do to make sure everyone in the community gets a turkey dinner with all the fixings, or at least a good solid meal.
[jump] 1. Neighborhood House Food Drive
1261 Grand Ave., St. Paul
651.789.2500 (NH main number)
Sat., Nov. 20 & Sun., Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Donate food to Neighborhood House's food drive at Kowalski's on Grand Ave. in St. Paul this weekend. Your in-kind donations will be used to stock the Neighborhood House Food Shelf, the largest in Ramsay County. Last year it served over 38,000 people. And, if you've forgotten your pasta and fruit to give, simply pick some up at the store. More info on the program and what's best to bring or buy is here.
Eden Prairie Center, Eden Prairie
Thu., Nov. 25
Dine in or take out a Thanksgiving feast from Wildfire in Eden Prairie and a portion of the proceeds will go to Taste of NFL and Second Harvest Heartland, non-profits that are working to relieve hunger issues. How easy is that? You can give back by enjoying a turkey dinner cooked by somebody else.
8541 54th Ave. N., New Hope
614 S. Third St., Minneapolis
Give money to the Emergency Food Shelf Network's Baskets of Hope or People Serving People's Thanksgiving Gift Basket Fund, which provide turkey dinners to local families for the holidays. Here's the quickest way to assure that others will be enjoying a bird and all those tasty side dishes. Baskets of Hope suggests $35 for a meal to feed six to eight and PSP gives different options -- $20 for a turkey, $20 for side dishes and $10 for dessert. Choose which level suits you best and donate online for the fastest results (and feel free to give more than the designated amounts).
Mall of America - East Entrance, 60 East Broadway, Bloomington
Thu., Nov. 25
Want to get out there and do something on Thanksgiving Day? The Walk to End Hunger at the Mall of America should satisfy your need for action and charity. Volunteer to help with race set up or tear down, sponsor a walker, or take on the 5K yourself. The event helps just about every charity mentioned here and more. But be sure you are an early riser -- the race starts at 7 a.m. inside the MOA.
Catholic Charities, 1200 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis
Commit to the Catholic Charities Sponsor a Family program and assure that a family like yours has a December to look forward to. They are in desperate need of 200 new sponsors by early December who can provide gifts and a holiday meal for Minneapolis and St. Paul folks mid-month. So, if you are out of town for turkey day, you can make up for it by offering your alms in a few weeks.
Hot Dish hopes everyone is safe, warm and sated for Thanksgiving this year. Please feel free to add additional charity opportunities in the comments of this article.
And, if you or someone you know is hungry or needs help this holiday season, have them call the United Way referral service at #211 from a landline or 651-291-0211 from a cell phone. It's set up to find the appropriate services to get you and yours a warm meal and a roof over your head.