Spread Some Kindness: Volunteer this Thanksgiving


We get so many wonderful requests from people looking for opportunities to volunteer with kids or places to volunteer as a family. Our community is generous and the way that we’re passing this giving spirit to our children is uplifting.

Volunteering at the holidays can be a perfect way to bond through working together as a family to help others. It can seem like family volunteer opportunities are few and far between. It can be a challenge to find locations that allow school-aged kids and younger to help. When you find a place that looks like it might be a good fit for your family, give them a call. Prepare to talk to them about what volunteer opportunities you find interesting, as well as the ages and abilities of your family members.

Many times that we envision helping in our community on Thanksgiving, serving a Thanksgiving meal jumps to mind. Visions of soup kitchens likely float through. There may be other ways that organizations have for volunteering on Thanksgiving as a family team. We’ve found some spots that can use your help!

Some of the places to volunteer for Thanksgiving in our community:

  • Christ the Rock, Menasha – Community Thanksgiving Dinner 

    • Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 28, 2019 – Volunteer for various jobs at the community meal. Pick up and drop off guests that are not able to drive. Or, provide meals on wheels type of service for those that are not able to make it out on turkey day. Volunteers under 16 will be limited to select jobs.
    • Register online at www.christtherock.org
  • Outagamie County Volunteer Service – Thanksgiving Program

    • Thanksgiving Basket Program
      • Volunteers make a Thanksgiving feast complete with side dishes or put together a food basket for a family in Outagamie County. This is a perfect opportunity to share your amazing green bean casserole that rivals Cracker Barrel or family secret pumpkin pie with someone new. You can also work with friends and neighbors to coordinate a food basket drive for several families. Contact Volunteer Services at (920)832-5515
  • Youth Go, Neenah – Thanksgiving Family Night (November 21, 2019)

    • Volunteers are needed for helping with meal prep during the day and serving dinner in the evening.
    • Contact Angie Mykel at (920)722-1435 or angie@youthgo.org

Other Spots to Volunteer with Your Family:

Ascension Mercy Hospital

  • Make cards, tray favors, or lap quilts for patients. These are all a great fit for artsy young children that might be too little for other service projects.
  • Call (920)223-0225 for guidelines

Brewster Village, Appleton – Holiday Decorating

  • Assist residents in decorating for the holidays. All of the supplies are ready to go, but help is needed to get the decorations up! Volunteers needed late November.
  • Contact Lisa Pingel at (920)832-5406 or Lisa.Pingel@outagamie.org

Father Carr, Oshkosh – Meal Delivery and Service

Call for more details: (920)231-2378

Pillars, Appleton – Many types of opportunities!

In addition to meal service and prep, Pillars is a homeless shelter that also looks for people who are willing to sort and organize donations.

Call (920)734-9291 to talk about what might work for your family or visit homelessconnections.net/volunteer-opportunities.

The Refuge at Mission Church, Appleton

Every Thursday from 2 – 5 pm The Refuge serves 200+ people and has many different types of volunteer opportunities available. The goal of The Refuge is to make a safe place where anyone can come and feel welcome.

All ages are welcome to help prepare food and set up from 9 am – 2 pm. Teens and adults are invited to volunteer with serving meals or socializing. Anyone is welcome to donate food or prepare food ahead of time for serving on Thursdays. Visit https://themissionchurch.us/the-refuge/ for more information.

The Refuge does not serve a meal on Thanksgiving meal because there are so many other organizations offering meal service this day. This is a great option to keep in mind throughout the year.

However you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we hope you have a wonderful day!

thanksgiving meal

Volunteer throughout the Holiday Season

There are so many opportunities in our community to provide service year-round and especially during the holidays. Volunteering can be a great opportunity for family bonding, creating traditions, and stepping away from the shopping and errands that dominate the season.

  • The holidays are a particularly busy time for so many organizations and they need extra hands to manage donations.
  • Delivering meals to families and individuals can be a family-friendly way to help others.
  • Check with food banks for their current needs as they are often gifted with lots of items during the holiday season but might have holes to fill.
  • Many organizations need help set up activities or help kids with games and crafts for holiday celebrations.
  • There are many opportunities to add your voice to a group of carolers or for visiting with folks at local nursing homes.

Families get so busy during November and December, that sometimes it can be hard to find time to physically volunteer. It can be easier to pick a place to donate items or money. There are plenty of ways to do that also!

  • Adopt a family with Harbor House by contacting Katie Phalin at (920)832-1667 or with Outagamie Volunteer Service by contacting Penny Jane Strauss at 920.832.5515
  • Appleton Police Department is always in need of the following to give to victims or families in need during times of crisis:
    • children’s books in good condition
    • new blankets
    • coloring books and crayons
  • Best Friends of Neenah-Menasha needs
    • gift cards for local attractions and restaurants
    • board games and activities for mentoring programs
    • gas cards for families.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley is always in need of:
    • games and sports equipment
    • arts and crafts supplies
    • prizes for their prize bin
    • musical instruments
    • clothing
    • grocery gift cards
    • various cooking and baking supplies for their Healthy Habits Food Program.

Find More Information:

The Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin is a great resource for finding ways to help in the community. You can find the 2019 Volunteer Connections booklet here. They also sort volunteer opportunities and have a great list for spots to volunteer that are a good fit for those 17 and younger.

If you are feeling the stir to do some good in our community, find your perfect match at The Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin.

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