Thanksgiving is regarded as the “season of giving”. One of the best and most rewarding ways to show gratitude and kindness this holiday season is by giving back to your local community. Acts of service such as food shopping for a neighbor, running a Turkey Trot for a non-profit, or donating to a food bank or soup kitchen can all make a significant impact on Hudson County and the greater North Jersey area. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it may be overwhelming to think about where to start, so we’ve rounded up some wonderful ways you can give back to those in need near Hoboken + Jersey City. Read on for a list of food banks + other ways to volunteer in North Jersey this Thanksgiving.
Ways to Give Back This Thanksgiving
Volunteer at a Local Food Bank or Food Kitchen
Volunteers are always needed and welcomed at food banks and food kitchens. Although similar in their missions, food banks and food pantries operate a little differently. A food bank is a large, centralized warehouse operation that supplies local food programs — such as food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other organizations — while a food pantry helps distribute food directly to those who do not have enough food to eat. The three main ways to support your local food programs include donating food, donating money, or volunteering your time. Some of the items that food banks need most include peanut butter, canned soups, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned beans, pasta, and rice.
Go Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping for those people that are immunocompromised, elderly, or unable to go out due to health reasons, is an excellent way to give back. This is especially the case during the holiday season when grocery stores are more crowded than usual. We suggest reaching out to neighbors or anyone locally that you know who cannot go food shopping for themselves and asking how you can help. Another way to assist is through non-profit organizations such as Shopping Angels, which provides free grocery shopping delivery to seniors, those who are disabled, and hospital patients. Also, Feeding America offers a network of 200 food banks through their Gift Catalog. Those interested in donating can select items along with a dollar amount and those groceries will be delivered across the country.
Adopt a Family
Spread the love and adopt a family in need this holiday season. Churches, YMCAs, and other organizations can provide information about neighbors in need and how you can make the holiday a little brighter for those less fortunate. For instance, organizations such as Families First or Family-to-Family offer the opportunity to donate to a specific family rather than a general organization or cause. Donors can read the families’ stories and make selections from there.
Visit Hospitals or Nursing Homes
Visiting hospital patients, or the elderly who aren’t able to be home with their families on Thanksgiving, is a special way to give back. Visitors can even make greeting cards and other crafts to bring. Sharing a heartwarming message is an incredible way to spread love.
Run a Turkey Trot
In addition to burning some calories before the big feast, many times, Turkey Trots support a good cause and provide an excellent way to give back to your community. Turkey trots typically support organizations that feed the hungry or provide Thanksgiving meals for families in need. Hoboken will be hosting its annual Turkey Trot in Pier A Park on Saturday, November 19th at 10AM. The event includes professional photos, official times results, drinks, and snacks for finishers, free giveaways from sponsors and vendors, and more. Registration fee starts at $30 and Proceeds benefit The Hoboken Shelter, Community Lifestyle, and Team Wilderness.
Donate to a Clothing Drive
Thanksgiving marks a time when the weather gets colder and we start to break out our sweaters and heavy jackets. However, those experiencing poverty or homelessness may not have warm clothing to wear, making this an important way to give back. Keep your eyes out for clothing drives near you, where you can donate fall/winter clothes that no longer serve you.
Make a Monetary Donation
Sometimes, organizations are overwhelmed with in-person volunteers during the holidays, so if you can’t commit your time at the moment, a donation to a worthy cause can go a long way. A few charities specifically focus on fighting hunger can be found below.
North Jersey Thanksgiving Volunteer Events
Thanksgiving Basket Drive — Project Self-Sufficiency | 127 Mill Street, Newton
Monday, November 21st
Every year, Project Self-Sufficiency distributes complete Thanksgiving dinners to local families in need. Host a food drive with your neighbors or coworkers to collect food for the Thanksgiving baskets. Turkey donations must be dropped off on Monday, November 21st.
AngelaCARES 11th Annual Thanksgiving Feed 1000 Seniors | 3044 John F Kennedy Boulevard West, Jersey City
Wednesday, November 23rd | 9:30AM – 7PM
Located at the Jersey City Golden Door Charter School, this organization packs up and delivers a Thanksgiving Meal to 1,000 senior citizens. Visit the website to sign up to volunteer. AngelaCARES will be providing local seniors with Thanksgiving dinner. The tradition of feeding over 1,000 home-bound seniors will continue this year with the help of generous donors and volunteers. Volunteers are needed from 9:30AM-8PM to help package meals. The meals will be delivered from 3PM-7PM, and volunteers are needed for delivery as well. To register as a volunteer, click here. For more information on how to register a senior for a meal, please visit the website here.
St. James Social Services Corp. | 604 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Newark
Wednesday, November 23 + Friday, November 25th
The organization will also distribute turkey dinners with trimmings to local families on November 23rd. Volunteers are welcome. St. James will also host a Thanksgiving dinner the day after the holiday, on November 25th from noon to 2PM. The dinner is open to the public.
The Hoboken Shelter | 300 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken
Thursday, November 24th
Thanksgiving Day volunteers are asked to help with meals, socialize with guests, and sort donations. All volunteers must register in advance and are asked to contribute items such as plates, cups, napkins, plastic utensils, coffee, sugar, and milk.
Hunger Helpers | Various Locations in Newark
Thursday, November 24th
Jersey Cares is seeking volunteers for several shifts throughout the day on Thanksgiving. Tasks include setting up, preparing meals, distributing meals, and helping with clean up. All volunteers must be at least 14 years old and are required to register with Jersey Cares in advance.
Food Banks + Soup Kitchens to Volunteer at this Thanksgiving
Salvation Army | Various Locations Throughout New Jersey
Spread good cheer on Thanksgiving or any day in November and December by signing up to ring the Salvation Army bell. Spend four hours at an approved location and encourage the community to donate to this worthy cause. Applications are available on their website.
Meals on Wheels North Jersey | Various Locations in New Jersey
With more than 5,000 independently-run local programs, Meals on Wheels is available in nearly every community throughout the U.S. The organization is dedicated to providing senior citizens with fresh meals. For those who want to give back this year but are short on time, Meals on Wheels’ delivery process is fast enough to be completed over a lunch break. Search for Meals on Wheels locations in your area by entering your zip code.
Nourish.NJ | 36 Sussex Avenue, Morristown
Nourish.NJ distributes free, freshly prepared meals at 36 Sussex Avenue in Morristown, NJ five days per week from 11:30AM-4PM. Meals are distributed at the same location on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30AM-2PM. Kids must be at least 16 years old to volunteer at this emergency food and social services provider. Younger kids can pack breakfast kits for local children or help create a Purple Apron Meal Kit to drop off for those in need.
Family Promise | 100 Dayton Street, Ridgewood
Family Promise serves up to 170 meals daily at the Bergen County Health and Human Services Center in Hackensack, 365 days per year. Special meals are served on Thanksgiving and Christmas. You must be at least 18 years old to volunteer in person, but kids of all ages are invited to collect ingredients needed to prepare Thanksgiving dinner to make meal kits for families in need.
Market Street Mission | 9 Market Street, Morristown
Market Street provides daily hot breakfast and dinner to thousands of individuals in Morristown. Volunteers aged 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult.
Eva’s Village | 393 Main Street, Paterson
Eva’s Village’s annual Thanksgiving meal service gives hundreds of food-insecure or homeless community members a hot holiday meal. Volunteer to serve or run a drive to collect non-perishable foods to stock the kitchen.
Toni’s Kitchen | 73 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair
The food ministry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Toni’s Kitchen will offer to-go meals for pickup on Thanksgiving Day from 11:30AM to noon. Throughout the week, the nonprofit will deliver turkey dinners with trimmings and various grocery items to the homes of several hundred seniors, plus more than a thousand families will receive Thanksgiving meal kits, groceries, and “day before/day after” meals prepared by local restaurants, so families who may be hosting will have other meals on hand for the weekend. Head to their website to learn more or call 973-932-0768 to donate or volunteer.
Operation Turkey | Various locations
Operation Turkey is an organization of over 30,000 volunteers throughout the U.S. dedicated to ensuring everyone receives a warm meal on Thanksgiving Day. Each year, volunteers come together from 8AM-12PM on Thanksgiving Day to prepare, package, and deliver meals to those in need. Although Operation Turkey is only currently located in a few states in the U.S., anyone can participate in their great cause by donating.
Other Food Banks/ Food Pantries in North Jersey
- Secaucus Food Pantry | Secaucus
- St Joseph + Michael Church | Union City
- Palisades Emergency Residence | Union City
- Grandparent Relatives Care Resource Center of Paterson | Paterson
- Table to Table | Paterson
- Holy Trinity Episcopal Church | West Orange
- Interfaith Food Pantry | Morris Plains
- St Peter’s Haven | Clifton
- Center for Food Action Food Pantry Hackensack | Hackensack
- Center for Food Action Food Pantry Saddle Brook | Saddle Brook
- Holy Trinity RC Church | Westfield
- St John The Apostle Church | Linden
- Blessing Box at Presbyterian Church | Verona
- Little Free Food Pantry Kiosk at Community Church | Cedar Grove
- The Salvation Army | Montclair
- Saint Peter Claver Church Food Pantry | Montclair
- Human Needs Food Pantry | Montclair
- Second Mile Emergency Food & Paper Pantry | Totowa