BY PAULINA TAM
What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? Is it a roof over your head or daily hot meals? Use the Nov. 27 festivities to lend a helping hand by giving back to the community. Listed below are volunteer opportunities where you can participate.
1. The Daily News and City Harvest are collaborating this holiday season from Oct. 21 to Jan. 16 to collect nonperishable food and keep the local food pantries’ cupboards filled in their “Daily News Food Drive.” Their goal for this season is to raise 1 million pounds of food. Queens drop-off locations include the Steinway Goodwill Store at 32-36 Steinway St. and the Van Dam Outlet at 47-47 Van Dam St. Visit www.cityharvest.org/dailynews to find out more Queens locations.
2. Although volunteer opportunities by Food Bank NYC and New York Cares for the holiday season fill up fast, there are always vacant but competitive positions still up for grabs. Prepare dinner at a local pantry or go on food deliveries throughout Queens. Events are updated daily. Register on www.foodbanknyc.org or www.newyorkcares.org now to secure your holiday volunteer placement. Please note New York Cares does require new registrants to attend a one-hour orientation.
3. The New York City Department of Education annually partners up with Citymeals-on-Wheels for their handmade greeting cards. Schoolchildren are invited to break out their crayons and markers and craft a greeting card that will be handed out alongside a free meal for those homebound during the holiday season. In 2012 alone, 57,187 handmade holiday cards designed by children in private and public schools were distributed. Visit www.citymeals.org/food-for-thought/handmade-greeting-cards to learn more.
4. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens have various ongoing food pantries happening in churches in Queens. Some of the churches include Our Lady of the Angelus at Rego Park and St. Rose of Lima at Far Rockaway. Pantry times and dates vary. Visit www.ccbq.org/what-we-do/parish-community-services to contact a church near to you to assist with any food distribution. Last year, over one million meals were handed out to over 115,000 people throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
5. Have a gently used coat that you no longer need that is just sitting in your closet? The 26th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive is kicking off on Nov. 17. Call your local Queens Library branch, NYPD and FDNY precincts to see if they are participating in the drive, and drop off a coat to help those in need keep warm this holiday season.
6. Nonprofit soup kitchen and food pantry Masbia of Rego Park will be handing out food to the hungry on Thanksgiving during their regular hours. Dining hours will be from 3 to 7:30 p.m. and the food pantry will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Packages of free food will be made available to guests after they are done with their hot meal during dinner service. Masbia is located at 98-08 Queens Blvd.
Visit www.foodpantries.org/ci/ny-queens or www.homelessshelterdirectory.org for a full listing of food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks active during Thanksgiving in Queens where you can volunteer and donate nonperishable food items. Pantry and kitchen times and dates vary. Call individual locations to find out appropriate times to line up for first-come, first-served food distribution.