Thanksgiving is a day of indulgence for most of us, and that's okay. After all, the purpose of the holiday is to celebrate our blessings. But before you enjoy the fruit of your labors, spare a few moments to do something for someone else, too — it's an even better way to appreciate the good things in your life. Here are five places you can volunteer during the days leading up to (and including) Turkey Day. Even if you can't make it out of the house to give your time and efforts, all of these organizations are accepting monetary donations as well. And if you really want to make a difference? Get involved year-round with an organization that speaks to your heart, and next year someone will be giving thanks for you.
Denver Rescue Mission makes turkeys its mission every November with its Turkey on Every Table campaign. This year, the goal is to collect a whopping 15,000 birds — but how to handle 180,000 pounds of frozen poultry? Enter the Turkey Tossers. Volunteers are needed at the Lawrence Street Shelter, 1130 Park Avenue West, from Wednesday, November 15, to Wednesday, November 22, to load the fowl into trucks for distribution to churches, schools and nonprofit organizations around town. Go to denverrescuemission.org to sign up for a shift or to see what foodstuffs you can donate to the cause.
If you don't know who Daddy Bruce Randolph is, you're not definitely Denver born and bred. But that's okay; there's plenty of information about the onetime janitor turned barbecue pit master and philanthropist online, so you can educate yourself forthwith. And on Saturday, November 18, the most important thing to know about Randolph's legacy is that the Denver 2017 Feed-A-Family needs volunteers. The annual effort has grown from the days when Randolph opened his eatery to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving; it now distributes 350,000 pounds of food each year to over 35,000 families and seniors in need. The effort is so massive, in fact, that three city blocks near the Epworth Foundation, at 1865 Bruce Randolph Avenue, will be shut down starting at midnight to assemble food boxes. Volunteers are still needed to deliver food and fill in where needed. Go to epworthfoundation.org to sign up, or the effort's GoFundMe campaign to donate toward food costs.
For almost thirty years, Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe in Highland hosted an annual Thanksgiving Feast for the Needy. When that restaurant shuttered, the Squeaky Bean took over the event, but now it has closed its doors as well. Not to worry, though: The longstanding Thanksgiving tradition is being carried on by Josh Olsen of ACRES at Warren Tech and Dana Rodriguez of Work & Class (2500 Larimer Street). Not only will Work & Class open its doors to the hungry, but meals will also be delivered to homes throughout the Denver area. Volunteers can donate their time prepping food from Saturday, November 18, though Tuesday, November 21, at Warren Tech High School, 1330 West Second Place in Lakewood, or hit the road as delivery drivers on Thanksgiving Day. Find out more and sign up to do your part at acreswarrentech.com. As in years past, plenty of other Denver chefs, restaurateurs and service-industry folks are giving their time and labor to make the event happen.
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House for all Sinners and Saints is putting on its ninth Operation Turkey Sandwich this year. The traditional Lutheran church (founded by very non-traditional pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber and made up of an equally unconventional but extremely inclusive and welcoming congregation) will be preparing and delivering over a thousand lunches to people who have to work on Thanksgiving rather than spending it with their nearest and dearest (bartenders, beat cops, bus drivers, etc). There's a role for everyone, no matter your skill set: baking, assembling lunches, delivering food. You're even welcome to bring your little ones for kid-friendly jobs that will get them in the giving habit early. Check out the event's Facebook page to sign up, then get over to Denver Community Church, 1595 Pearl Street, at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day to make it happen.
The Turkey Trot at South High School, 1700 East Louisiana Avenue, is a Denver tradition (to be honest, it's a tradition everywhere) and a huge fundraiser for the Mile High United Way. If you're looking to enjoy some fresh air on Thanksgiving Day but the idea of running the four-mile race makes you want to gnaw your own arm off (pro tip: Don't fill up before Thanksgiving dinner), consider volunteering for the event. There are plenty of ways to help out, from handing out race registration packets to checking IDs at the post-race beergarden to manning water stations. There's even one last spot for some lucky person to lead the race's avian mascot, Gobbles, around the site. Shifts start at 7:15 a.m.; go to unitedwaydenver.org to sign up.