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Ways To Make A Difference This Thanksgiving

November 25, 2014

Many people identify Thanksgiving as a time to indulge in a large meal with family or friends, but it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving, which is being thankful for all that we have. Instead of indulging in a giant meal that may be unhealthy for ourselves and for the planet, consider taking a kinder and more eco-friendly approach this Thanksgiving and give back to the community you live in. 

Arrange A Thanksgiving Day Clean-Up

Unless there’s snow in your city on Thanksgiving, the weather may still be decent enough where you can get a group together and head out to the streets and parks to do some cleaning. Thanksgiving can be a day to be thankful for what we have, and to preserve the environment we often take advantage of. A city or beach clean-up can be fun and rewarding, and what better way to thank Mother Nature than by arranging a Thanksgiving Day clean-up?

Serve Food To The Elderly Or The Homeless

Thanksgiving can be lonely for many, especially if they are homeless or live in a retirement home. Serving food to others can be just as fulfilling as stuffing our bellies with food, and it means so much to the people we are helping.

To volunteer to serve food at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, simply Google “Soup Kitchen + Your Town Name” and find local soup kitchens in need of help on Thanksgiving Day. If they already have people helping to serve food on Thanksgiving, ask what else you can do to help out.

To volunteer at a retirement home on Thanksgiving Day, search for retirement homes in your area and call them directly to see what they need help with. If they don’t need help serving food, ask if you can visit for the day and bring in flowers, treats, or gifts for the residents.

Host Your Own Thanksgiving Day Food Drive

Host a food drive in your workplace, church, or community and give back to the families in your community who cannot afford a Thanksgiving dinner. Gather items a few days before Thanksgiving so families can receive them in time for Thanksgiving. Some ideas for food drive items are cans of corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, or boxed stuffing mix.

If you’d like to go the extra mile, look for organic options since many of the families in need are probably unable to afford the healthier food options.

Visit An Animal Shelter

Animals need love and attention too, so consider visiting a local animal shelter during the week of Thanksgiving. Many shelters will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but you can give them plenty of attention a few days before! Walk the dogs, pet the cats and rabbits, and hold the mice, guinea pigs, and hamsters!

Visit A Children’s Hospital

Many children may be unable to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with their families, especially if they have just had surgery or are undergoing treatment. Throw a toy drive and ask friends and family for toy and book donations, and visit a local hospital to hand out goodies to local children.

Another way to give back to local children battling critical illnesses is to donate a car to Wheels For Wishes, benefiting Make-A-Wish. When you donate a car to Wheels For Wishes, you can help to grant the wish of a local child between the age of 2 ½ and 18 who is battling a critical illness. Your donation makes a difference! Plus, you receive a great tax deduction and any donations we receive before 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31 count for the 2014 tax year.

Donate a car today and help to grant a wish for a local child this Thanksgiving. Call 1-855-278-9474 or fill out an online vehicle donation form.

Put Together Gift Baskets

Everybody enjoys a surprise here and there, and what better way to bring a smile to someone’s face than by leaving something sweet outside of their door? Consider putting together gift baskets to leave at the doorsteps of neighbors. You may also see if you can visit a local apartment complex and leave baskets outside of resident’s doors. Gift basket ideas may include chocolates, books, mittens and hats, or grocery store gift cards.

Feel Great About Giving Back

Whether you give back on Thanksgiving Day or any other day of the year, you can be sure that you will feel great about your decision to make a difference in another person’s life. The impact of a smile or a simple gesture can mean the world to someone who is going through a difficult time, and you can be the reason why someone’s Thanksgiving is improved for the better.

For more Thanksgiving Day volunteer ideas, please visit

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CDF also runs the following programs:
Wheels for Wishes benefiting Make-A-Wish®, Wheels for Wishes & Wellness benefiting local children's hospitals and charities, Vehicles for Veterans benefiting disabled veterans.

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CDF's mission is to help these benefitting charities fulfill their missions with proceeds from CDF's car donation programs. CDF and all benefitting charities are separate and unaffiliated 501c organizations.
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