As Thanksgiving approaches, we feel all the annual nostalgia for smokey woods, sweet potato casserole, and endless football games. But while we enjoy everyone and everything that has made our lives #blessed, we sometimes miss out on an invaluable opportunity…

Giving back to our community. That phrase alone can make us cringe when we think of serving meals or handing over cash.

handing over cash by giving back to the community during the Thanksgiving season

But if that’s the case, shame on us. We were never meant to just wall ourselves in within our comfortable bubbles of abundance and turn a blind eye to those around us who are suffering.

Instead of only binge watching Stranger Things or finally cleaning out the gutters this Thanksgiving, donate some of your time and resources to those who need something to be thankful for.

Here are easy 3 tips on how help your community:

Volunteer at local nonprofits
Volunteering with the numerous local nonprofits is an effective way to help others out, and there are many different organizations to choose from in the Greater Richmond area.

If you have a heart for victims of domestic and sexual violence, we suggest getting trained with Safe Harbor to provide support to those who have survived these terrible situations. The holidays can be especially difficult for victims as this time of year might represent or trigger past trauma.

Another amazing nonprofit that always can use a hand is Church Hill Activities & Tutoring. C.H.A.T. “serves the youth of East End Richmond and equips them with the heart, head, and hands to make transformative life decisions.” Volunteer opportunities include tutoring children after school and helping with extracurricular programs.

Church Hill Activities & Tutoring volunteering in Richmond VA, Emerge blog

Whether you’re passionate about serving the homeless, caring for children, or adopting neglected animals, there are many organizations throughout Richmond dedicated to healing our community. Below are a few other nonprofits to check out:
Richmond SPCA
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Richmond Youth Peace Project
YWCA
The Doorways

Donate supplies that are in demand
If you’d like to give back without spending money, we suggest donating supplies to places like FeedMore and their divisions, the Community Kitchen, the Central Virginia Food Bank, and Meals on Wheels.

Some food items the Food Bank needs most right now include:
Canned meat
Single serve macaroni & cheese
Canned vegetables like carrots, potatoes, or spinach
Shelf stable milk
Peanut butter

In addition to food items, there are other supplies desperately needed in our community and around the world, including clothes, toys, and hygiene products. For example, Operation Christmas Child sends wrapped shoeboxes filled with toys and hygiene items to children in other countries who won’t receive any other gifts.

To donate clothes, check out Dress for Success Central Virginia, Goodwill, or Cinderella Dreams. With these organizations, you’ll have the opportunity to provide clothes for disadvantaged women seeking careers, families in poverty, and teenage girls who need dresses.

Visit patients at a nearby hospital or veterans center
For many people, Thanksgiving doesn’t always mean sitting around Grandma’s oak table sipping apple cider and reminiscing. It means continuing to recover in a hospital or transitional center. As everyone else travels to visit relatives, patients and military personnel often have to stay put as they heal from illnesses or accidents.

Within the Greater Richmond area, there are multiple places to visit or volunteer at where you can provide moral support to those who might not be surrounded by family during the holidays:
The Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center
Disabled American Veterans
DWL Veterans Outreach and Training Center

We have two and a half weeks until Thanksgiving hits with full force, so let’s use this time to make a difference in our communities. If we step outside our ignorant bliss and open our eyes to the experiences of so many around us, we’ll discover a richer appreciation for life that lies in lifting up other people.

And I don’t think it will just change our communities – it will change our attitudes too.