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10 Ways to Help on Turkey Day

With leaves changing, the holidays on the horizon and good cheer in the air, November is the ideal time to give back. But with so much packed into the autumn season—pumpkin patches and hayrides included—it can be tough finding time to show your thanks. That’s why AARP has pulled together a list of 10 quick ways to help those around you have a wonderful Thanksgiving time.

  1. Send gifts to the military—or have them pick out their own.Some nonprofits put military wish lists on Amazon; you purchase the gift amount, then they do the rest. Other organizations let you donate funds that get transferred to military members so they can buy and send gifts to their loved ones. Browse our military toolkit for more ideas.
  2. Make crafts with your kids (or grandkids).Thanksgiving is a great time to grab some Popsicle sticks and glue and get down to work with your little ones. You can fashion a cornucopia centerpiece to drop off at your local nursing home, or create seasonal goodie packs for sick kids.
  3. Give an animal a home.If you’re an animal lover, show your thanks by adopting a pet, fostering one until they find a permanent home or volunteering to take shelter cats and dogs to medical appointments.
  4. Build connections to fight isolation in your community.Take a moment to check in on neighbors at risk of isolation, give your grandparents a call or bring a friendly visitor kit to the local nursing home. You can also take a Turkey Day meal to a friend living alone or invite them over to your own feast.
  5. Run off some of that casserole—and raise a little dough. You’ve probably heard of “Turkey Trots,” those fun Thanksgiving races that help you burn calories before you burn through the buffet. But what you may not know is that many of them raise money for those in need during the holidays. Enter "Turkey Trot" and your city/state to find races in your area.
  6. Fight hunger on a day of feasting. Volunteering at soup kitchens and organizing food drives are popular ways to fill bellies on Thanksgiving, but they are not the only options for being part of a Hunger Campaign. Take an older neighbor to the grocery store, demonstrate nutritious cooking techniques at senior centers or deliver meals to those in need.
  7. Help kids prep for winter exams.By Thanksgiving, students are already gearing up for their midyear exams. But not every child has the notebooks, pencils and calculators they need to do their best. Give back by participating in a school supply drive—or planning your own.
  8. Spruce up a local park or garden.Remember those falling leaves? They’re just waiting to be cleared, so grab some friends on a crisp autumn day and get out there! You can also start a community garden, which is a good way to think springtime thoughts—and fight hunger.
  9. Check off more ideas from our yearlong list.Remember our article,“52 ways to make 2013 a year to volunteer?”In November, you can adjust your neighbors’ clocks to Daylight Savings Time, help the elderly send greeting cards or lay a wreath at a memorial on Veterans’ Day.
  10. Come up with your own project—and find helpers on Create the Good. At CTG, we’ve got plenty of ideas for volunteer projects. You can also post your own ideas on our website and get local volunteers to sign up to help. You’ll create good and make new friends!

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