As the air turns cold and stomachs begin to grumble for turkey and pie, many people see the approaching holidays not only as an opportunity to spend time with family and gorge on fabulous food, but also to give back to the community.
Local organizations often welcome the "holiday spirit" as an opportunity to have more helping hands to serve those in need. But many say they also hope that sentiment of giving will remain throughout the year and not fade away when the holidays are over.
This holds true for the Franciscan Center, which has more volunteers than paid staff on a daily basis. The organization on West 23rd Street in Baltimore offers services from emergency food and clothing assistance to providing job interview suits and computer access for people in need.
Volunteer and In-Kind Donation Coordinator Angela Hall sees 12-25 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds each day, some who have volunteered for 26 years.
"I love our volunteers. Many of them are committed and dedicated and have been here for years," Hall said. "It's nice to be involved in the spirit of a holiday but you have to understand that the need is all year round."
Volunteers serve clients a holiday meal prior to the actual holiday. This year, the "Thanksgiving meal" will be served on Tuesday. Volunteers must be 16 years old to work on the food line, and family groups are welcome.
Though they are always grateful for volunteer work at any time, Hall said there is more need for help at the end of each month. This often happens because many clients rely on paychecks or government assistance that may not last them to the end of the month.
The opportunities to give both during and after Thanksgiving are plentiful. See the listings below for service in your area, and visit baltimoresun.com/features for more volunteering opportunities.
The Franciscan Center
Baltimore, 410-467-5340, fcbmore.org
Provides emergency assistance and services for those in need.
Thanksgiving service: Help serve a Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Serve beyond the holidays: Help with daily lunch program, stock food pantry, distribute clothing, office assistance, food distribution events.
My Sister's Place Women's Center
Baltimore, 410-659-3763, catholiccharities-md.org/my-sisters-place
Serves women and children in need in Baltimore City.
Thanksgiving service: Need volunteers to help prepare and serve breakfast on Thanksgiving morning from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m.
Serve beyond the holidays: Provide casseroles, serve and prepare meals, assist at front desk
INNterim Housing Corporation
Pikesville, 410-486-8175, innterim.org
Provides housing for women and children in need and support to become self-sufficient.
Thanksgiving service: Volunteers should arrive between 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving to serve food to homeless mothers and their children.
Serve beyond the holidays: Prepare dinner, provide child care, tutor and mentor children. Need volunteers to work with children and to present relevant topics to the homeless mothers on Thursday evenings.
Community Action Council of Howard County
Columbia, 410-313-0703, cac-hc.org
Interrupts the cycle of poverty by providing services to the low-income population of Howard County.
Thanksgiving service: Help pack the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal for families in need on Monday evening. Volunteers can also distribute the boxed meal items on Tuesday. Preregistration is required by phone or email.
Serve beyond the holidays: Volunteer with community garden, food bank, head start program and more.
Fort Meade, 410-551-7722, catholiccharities-md.org/sarahs-house
Offers housing and other services to homeless families in Anne Arundel County.
Thanksgiving service: Volunteers may donate turkeys, canned vegetables, stuffing, rolls, and beverages for people in independent living. Drop off donations any day of the week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Beyond the holidays: After-school tutoring program, evening child care and front desk reception. Also need donations of paper products, toiletries, socks and underwear and diapers/baby wipes.
Harford Family House
Aberdeen, 410-273-6700, harfordfamilyhouse.org
Helps homeless families transition to permanent housing.
Thanksgiving service: Will accept any food donations that people would like to bring for Thanksgiving meals.
Serve beyond the holidays: Individuals and families can come for Third Saturday Serve on Dec. 20 from 9 a.m. to noon to help with various projects.
The Shepherd's Table
Westminster, 410-857-5944, shepstaff.org
Facilitates community events and provides services for people in Carroll County. Includes soup kitchens, clothing donations, yard sales and more.
Thanksgiving service: Drop off dinner donations on Wednesday between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at St. John Roman Catholic Church, 45 Monroe St., Westminster. There may also be opportunities to serve dinner.
Serve beyond the holidays: Receptionist, back-to-school program, fundraising events and more