The season of feasting has begun. This year, give first and then go get your gobble on. Teaching kids from the get go that helping is rewarding, important and fun sets up a lifetime of compassionate caring, so we searched the city for spots that welcome wee philanthropists (not all organizations do!). Here’s everything you need to know about Thanksgiving volunteering with kids in LA.

Do Goodphoto: Union Station Homeless Services

Union Station Homeless Services: The Place for Kids
Dinner in the Park is so kid-friendly, it even has a Children’s Fun Zone. Spend a beautiful day in the park, helping to serve some of the 7,000 warm meals they provide during the holiday season. This organization was founded over 40 years ago to help homeless adults and kids get back on their feet. They have an online wish list for donations that can be dropped off on November 18, which is great for kids to take part in delivering even if you have other Turkey Day plans. Thanksgiving registration opened on November 1, so hurry to save your spot. It’s one of the few Thankgiving Volunteer opportunities that has no age requirement, so it fills up quickly each year.

If you can’t take part on Thanksgiving Day (or there are no spots left this year!), your family, school, neighborhood or church group can also put together a Welcome Home Kit or participate in the making of Sack Lunches for a day.

825 E. Orange Grove Blvd.
Pasadena
626-240-4550
Online: unionstationhs.org

Lend a helping hand a Westside Thanksgivingphoto: Joel H. Mark via Facebook

Where Kids Help & Play: The Westside Thanksgiving
This big, festive feast draws thousands of people and so many kids that they have a carnival in the morning to entertain them. The festivities are convivial and family-oriented with people dressed in costumes, from turkeys to super heroes. Giving for gobblers starts bright and early at 6 a.m. Call ahead to be assigned a shift on Thanksgiving, or just show up and pitch in to help set up on Wednesday. Kids must be accompanied and supervised by an adult at all times.

In addition to donations in advance (of money, non-perishable foods, clothing and stuffed animals), they also need cooked food donations, so if it’s too hard to help and keep track of your little ones at the event, they can help you cook at home! They need 300 turkeys and 600 pies that people bake at home and deliver fresh to the site. Check the website for details, and then get cookin’.

Veterans Association off Wilshire Boulevard
Wilshire VA exit., North Campus
Santa Monica
310-394-3153
Online: westsidethanksgiving.org

Thanksgiving Volunteers at One Incredible Familyphoto: OIF via facebook

One Incredible Family: Food, Art and Inspiration for All
OIF needs folks to “open cans, stir, cut, chop, mash, slice, bake, ladle, draw, color, be artistic, package, deliver, serve and inspire!” In other words, you and your young ‘uns (ages 8 & up) will assist in preparing a whopping 1,500 Thanksgiving meals for homeless families and vets. You will also create artistic inspirational banners. Participation involves a minimum $5 donation and sign up at laworks.com. This event takes place on Saturday, November 26 from 6:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. at Westchester Masonic Center. They could also use turkey (cooked), pies, rolls, juice boxes and water donations.

7726 West Manchester Ave.
Playa Del Rey
310-313-0123
Online: oneincrediblefamily.org

Midnight Mission Thanksgivingphoto: Midnight Mission via facebook

The Midnight Mission Downtown Los Angeles: A Celeb Fete
Skid Row needs you! But their volunteer list for this popular event this year is already overbooked. Volunteer positions for serving circa 2,500 of hungry homeless and near-homeless downtown denizens get snatched up super fast; the Mission Thanksgiving effort even draws out celebs. If you don’t get “in,” there’s the Thanksgiving-a-Go Go alternative, because they still need donations—and there’s always next year! Midnight Mission has been helping destitute folks for more than 100 years, and they asked us to include them even though they have plenty of volunteers each year for Turkey Day itself, because they’d like you to know that they need helpers year-round, not just during the big holidays.

601 S. San Pedro St.
Downtown LA
213-624-9258
Online: midnightmission.org

14543764_1161711780541703_7185941330300812401_ophoto: One-On-One Outreach

One-On-One Outreach: This Month and Every Month
The name says it all: the last Sunday of each month, an every changing group of multi-aged volunteers pack groceries and staple items and deliver door-to-door to low-income residents of a South Central community.  Organized by a local businessman and an area resident, One-on-One Outreach packs a small time commitment into a large impact; there deliveries help the recipients have regular meals.  Help deliver frozen turkeys and hams to the families in the neighborhood on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Or mark your calendar and on Christmas day participate in giving out hundreds of toys.  If the holidays are too full for you to take part, you can help out at the regular monthly grocery deliveries which start up again in January 2017.While all ages are welcome, younger kids who need watching can mean that parents and older sibs can’t participate as fully, so it’s usually best for kids 5 & up.
Contact: Michael Schwartz—michael@oneononeoutreach.org

14615624_1826911194213977_6932859712127424974_ophoto: Worthy of Love

Worthy of Love: Kids Helping Kids
If you’re looking for something to do at the end of November that will really resonate with your kids, this organization will stay in the heart of everyone in your family for a long time. Worthy of Love’s purpose is to create unforgettable birthday parties for children who live in Skid Row. They have a birthday party at the end of each month, celebrating kids with birthdays in that month in LA on a rooftop location, with a DJ, dancing, food, donated gifts and cake. The holiday time birthday celebration dates are November 17 and December 29.

“Kids really get excited to help the homeless children. They can serve cake, help unwrap party favors, make name tags for the kids, help clean up and pass out teddy bears.”

Sign up online: worthyoflove.net, or email worthyoflovela@gmail.com for volunteer opportunities.

Family Volunteer Dayphoto: LA Regional Foodbank

LA Regional Food Bank: Make a Lunch, Make a Day
LA Regional Food Bank provides food support to several community agencies in Los Angeles, ranging from large homeless shelters that feed hundreds of people a day to small daycare programs. It is the second largest foodbank operating in the United States. Celebrate the impact of family volunteering and kick off the holiday season by giving back. Bring your kids ages 7 & up on the weekend before Thanksgiving to sort, stack and shelve valuable food to distribute to the hungry throughout the city.

LARFB
1734 E 41st St.
Downtown LA
Online: laworks.com

If you’re looking for more places to volunteer with kids, throughout the year, we rounded up some of the most amazing, giving spots in town.

Do you know of any great Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities that let kids show how grateful they are for what they have by helping others? Let us know in the comment section.

—Sylvie Greil