Opportunities to give back during holidays
With Thanksgiving falling later this year, shoppers are already getting a jump start on holiday gifts. Meanwhile, Black Friday sales have continued to encroach on the time Thanksgiving dinner usually happens.
Despite the hustle and bustle, it’s worth remembering the spirit of the November holiday, which is to provide families and friends a chance to give thanks for the blessings life has offered.
For some people, it may be a chance to realize that not everyone has those same gifts. According to a previous Sentinel report, 2,010 people in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties are homeless. In addition, the Orlando metro area is the worst in the nation for the availability of extremely low-income housing.
There are some local organizations dedicated to giving back to the community and welcome assistance in their missions. Here are ways to volunteer with time and money during this Thanksgiving season.
■ Pitch in for a Thanksgiving project with Heart of Florida United Way to pack meal kits and distribute them. Through Nov. 23, find more details at hfuw.org
■ Buy a laundry basket
and fill it with food to help families in need through Basket Brigade Florida. Donate and help deliver baskets during a big volunteer event. 9 a.m. Nov. 23 at 3000 S. John Young Pkwy. in Orlando; 321-281-2132; basketbrigadeflorida.org
■ Join in stuffing bags of
food with Joy Metropolitan Community Church to help feed the hungry. 6-10 p.m. Nov. 25 at 2351 S. Fern Creek Ave. in Orlando; 407-894-1081; facebook.com
■ Swap out excess items
during a gratitude and giving day at the Peanut Butter Palace, a co-op house and community. Bring and swap clothing, tools, books, art and plants. The event will also feature a vegan/vegetarian potluck and song circle. Donations to CommonGoods Network are also being accepted. 4-9 p.m. Nov. 26 at 2346 Rutledge Ave. in Orlando; facebook.com
■ Help deliver Thanksgiving meals to the elderly, homebound and disabled of the Orlando community with First Baptist Orlando and Meals on Wheels. Nov. 28 at 3000 S. John Young Pkwy. in Orlando; 407-425-2555; firstorlando .com
■ Pitch in to beautify
Mead Botanical Garden in
Winter Park during a day of cleaning up invasive plants and habitat restoration. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own gardening and cutting tools and a pizza lunch will be provided. 9 a.m.-noon at 1300 S. Denning Drive in Winter Park; 407-599-2800; eventbrite.com
■ Explore ongoing volunteer opportunities
through Hands On Orlando, a nonprofit dedicated to helping with community projects through volunteer action. handsonorlando.com
■ Volunteer to feed the
homeless during weekly opportunities with Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Call 407-426-1250 or visit cen tralfloridahomeless.org
Money or goods donations
■ Donate to the Salvation
Army in the Orlando area, whether it’s through a monetary gift or by giving goods such as clothing, housewares and small furniture. salvationarmyflorida.org/ orlando/
■ Give money to Second Harvest Food Bank to help fight hunger in Central Florida. feedhopenow.org
■ Support Harvest Time International through monetary or goods donations at Central Florida locations. harvesttime.org
■ Donate to Seinors First, an organization supporting the elderly through Meals on Wheels, in-home care and other programs. seniorsfirstinc.org
■ Help Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando and Osceola County with a financial donation supporting home building and community service. Though the organization’s build sites won’t be open during Thanksgiving weekend, volunteer opportunities are available in December. habitatorlandoosceola.org
■ Support the outreach of Orlando Union Rescue
Mission as they feed and help the homeless this holiday season. ourm.org
■ Bombshell’s Tavern is accepting food donations for veterans through Nov. 27 at 5405 Edgewater Drive in Orlando.
■ YogaMix Orlando is offering a free Thanksgiving day class (Nov. 28) for those who bring nonperishable food items. Register at yoga mixorlando.com.
■ United Against Poverty
accepts donations of nonperishable foods, bottled water and hygiene products at their locations. The Orlando location accepts donations from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at 150 W. Michigan St. in Orlando. The organization also accepts monetary donations at uporlando.org.
Other Good Samaritans helping the community
■ AmeriFactors, a Central Florida company offering business financing, is giving away 500 free frozen turkeys to families in need. They’ll be distributing the birds 6-8 a.m. (or until turkeys are gone) Nov. 26 at 2925 International Dr. in Kissimmee. Limit one turkey per household.
■ Local business partners and community groups,
including Eric Holm, owner and president of Metro Corral Partners, are joining together for the 27th “Helpings from the Heart.” This annual event will serve more than 20,000 Thanksgiving meals to “anyone who wants a great meal and to celebrate the holiday in fellowship with others.” 11 a.m. Nov. 28 at 440 W. Colonial Drive in Orlando; franchising.com