Polish your gravy boats and slip into your eating pants, people – Thanksgiving is almost here. It’s the holiday devoted to lots: of traffic, of eating, of time with family, and of being grateful for everything we have. (hmmm … didn’t we just do this in October?)

Thanksgiving is also dedicated to those without lots.  Every year, millions of people across the country take time out of their holiday festivities to give back through volunteering. And we can think of no better way to celebrate a day of gratefulness than by helping others. After the annual touch-football game is over, why not take advantage of the holiday spirit by participating in one of the service opportunities below.

Too busy prepping the turkey (or tofurkey), whipping the mashed potatoes or just gobbling it up? Fret not. People need help all year round! So prep away, and bring the Thanksgiving spirit into the rest of the year!

  • Bake or Buy Pie. Across the country, expert and novel bakers-alike are banding together to bake pies to raise money for charity – like this Pie in the Sky event in Massachusetts or these pie events across the country. As if pumpkin and pecan pie could get any sweeter!
  • Race. Sign up for a Thanksgiving Day run that helps raise awareness or money (or both) for a good cause, like the Run for Food race in California.
  • Deliver meals to older and housebound residents with Meals on Wheels. Your visit will bring them much more than food.
  • Visit residents at a local senior center for VA hospital. Many of these organizations throw Thanksgiving dinners or parties for their residents, like this one in New York City, and need extra help and extra friendly faces.
  • Serve (literally) by volunteering at a local soup kitchen, which provides free, hot meals on Thanksgiving (and the rest of the year) to people in need.
  • Donate. If you don’t have time to volunteer in-person on Thanksgiving, donating to a favorite charity is a great way to give back.

What did we miss? What did you do? Feel free to share other local and national volunteer opportunities in the comments below.