BY ELISA LALA 

Original article posted by PhillyVoice here.

As you begin to create your Thanksgiving grocery list and daydream about the bountiful spread that will soon surround your family’s table, consider another pre-turkey day to-do: gearing up to give back.

There are plenty of opportunities locally to give back on, and in the days leading up to, Thanksgiving. But with many of these opportunities, there’s a requirement to register in advance. In other words, now is the time to vow to volunteer this holiday.

#1. Prepare meals with MANNA

Manna Cooking

Prepare Thanksgiving dinner for Philadelphia’s needy critically ill residents and their families. (MANNA/Facebook)

Thanksgiving prep starts bright and early at MANNA, an organization based in Center City, Philadelphia, devoted to caring for the city’s critically ill residents and their families. On this day of thanks, more than 100 volunteers fill the center’s kitchen to prepare, package and deliver more than 1,800 traditional turkey dinners with all the fixings to MANNA clients and their families.

MANNA serves locals suffering from critical illness such as cancer, heart disease, AIDS and diabetes. In doing so, the organization serves its clients and their families meals three times a day, year-round. On Thanksgiving, the team goes into overdrive and could use your help.

For more details about Thanksgiving Day at MANNA, contact Dan Getman at dgetman@mannapa.org 215-496-2662 x132 or Emily Gallagher at egallagher@mannapa.org 215-496-2662 x127.

#2. Transport turkeys with Helping Hand Rescue Mission 

Thanksgiving Dinner

This photo shows an example of the gourmet Thanksgiving meals provided by many homeless organizations each Thanksgiving Day. (Kathy Willens/AP)

On the week and days leading up to Thanksgiving, volunteers at the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in North Philadelphia deliver uncooked turkeys and sides to local families in need. It’s been estimated that approximately 4,000 persons are homeless in Philadelphia on any given day. Many more have a roof over their head but remain in poverty.

For information on thanksgiving meal deliveries, email helpinghandphilly@gmail.com.

#3. Pack the pantry at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission

A few more items to add to your Thanksgiving shopping list. (Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission)

A few more items to add to your Thanksgiving shopping list. (Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission)

The Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission in Center City has created a list of grocery items needed to serve the needy this Thanksgiving. The mission is asking individuals and groups to help by hosting a food drive. To help, email volunteer@sundaybreakfast.org to get involved.

#4. Organize a kids’ coat drive via Feel the Warmth

Join the effort to provide less fortunate children in Montgomery and Chester counties with items of need. (Feel the Warmth/Facebook)

Join the effort to provide less fortunate children in Montgomery and Chester counties with items of need. (Feel the Warmth/Facebook)

Thanksgiving kicks off the season of giving, and with it, comes the colder weather. This season of cheer, hold a winter coat collection for Philadelphians in need. Feel The Warmth is an organization that provides less fortunate children in Montgomery and Chester counties with warm winter coats and other items of need.

Both new and gently warm items are accepted. For more information, click here. 

#5. Invite a military recruit to your table via Operation Fireside

In this photo, troops applaud as President Barack Obama speaks to troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. (Associated Press)

In this photo, troops applaud as President Barack Obama speaks to troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. (Associated Press)

Each Thanksgiving, nearly 100 families from all over South Jersey invite the approximately 300 Coast Guard recruits based in Cape May into their homes and around their tables for the holiday. The program, “Operation Fireside,” is organized by the Red Cross and the United States Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, N.J. Learn more here.

ELISA LALA Email: elisa@phillyvoice.com