While it's important to express gratitude year-round, it can become much easier around Thanksgiving. This holiday inspires people to acknowledge all the great things they have. As you gather around the dinner table for a Thanksgiving meal, you might realize how much you appreciate your family and friends. You may also be grateful for your basic essentials, good health, and material items.

In the spirit of celebrating what you're thankful for, you might also want to help those who are less fortunate. Giving back to the community allows you to use your resources to ensure others feel just as lucky as you do. Here at Audi Mission Viejo, we want to share some 2022 Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities that you and your family can participate in around Mission Viejo. With the help of our guide, you can be part of something bigger this holiday season and even turn volunteering into an annual tradition.

We Give Thanks

We Give Thanks started over 30 years ago when founder Frank Garcia served free Thanksgiving meals to families in need. This event first occurred in the parking lot of his family-owned restaurant, La Casa Garcia, and has since expanded to over 15,000 attendees. Over the past couple of years, the organization held drive-thru dinners and helped the Salvation Army in Anaheim distribute food to families before Thanksgiving, rather than hosting in-person events.

Regardless of the type of event that We Give Thanks holds in 2022, you can sign up for a shift to help families have a joyful Thanksgiving. It's important to note that We Give Thanks emphasizes not only providing food but also ensuring no one feels alone on this holiday, so it's possible to sign up for tasks involving entertainment and community connections.

Laguna Food Pantry

Laguna Food Pantry strives to offer free, nutritious groceries to families in need. The pantry is open to everyone and requires no proof of need, making it an accessible option for those in and around Mission Viejo. The wide variety of meat, dairy, eggs, produce, and shelf items allows families to shop before Thanksgiving and make their own meals at home. Volunteers can even help match families with vegetarian options to cater to dietary restrictions.

Laguna Food Pantry serves around 200 families per day throughout the year, though this number tends to increase around the holidays. Most shifts are available during the weekdays, but you can also talk to a coordinator about volunteering to receive deliveries on the weekends. The minimum age requirement is 14 years old, so be sure to recruit your teenagers to help out at Laguna Food Pantry this Thanksgiving season. The pantry currently operates on a drive-thru basis, though it typically uses an in-store model that allows visitors to do the shopping themselves.

Gobble Gobble Give

Gobble Gobble Give is a charity that started over 24 years ago thanks to the tradition of a Los Angeles friend group. Every Thanksgiving morning, they would bring food, clothes, and blankets to local people experiencing homelessness. The tradition eventually resulted in the formation of Gobble Gobble Give, which served over 17,000 people in 2015 and 33,000 in 2019. The organization now has 28 locations, including one in Santa Ana, which is just outside of Mission Viejo.

On Thanksgiving, you don't even need to sign up to help out. The organization asks volunteers to bring a precooked dish, five small toiletry kits, and clothing or blankets. If you want to help out even more, the organization is constantly looking for people to volunteer for other tasks. You can help coordinate volunteers by being a team leader or using your vehicle to deliver items. You can also volunteer to warm a turkey on Thanksgiving morning, solicit donations from local vendors, or take pictures and videos throughout the event.

Orange County Rescue Mission

Orange County Rescue Mission is a faith-based organization that provides many services to those in need. People experiencing homelessness, abuse, and addiction can depend on the programs that provide counseling, food, health care, and housing. Orange County Rescue Mission even has a law clinic to offer free legal services. Because of the wide variety of services, volunteers can use their skills and interests in a way that best fits the organization. For instance, you might volunteer to tutor local kids, give haircuts, or pack food and hygiene kits.

While you can volunteer at Orange County Rescue Mission year-round, the 2022 Turkey Trot might interest those who want to give back this Thanksgiving. Last year, the 5K featured nearly 1,2000 racers and raised enough money to provide over 50,000 meals to locals during the holiday season. With these numbers, it's clear that the event needs help. You can participate in the race or volunteer your time to help the event run smoothly. You might even sign yourself up to check in racers, coordinate water stations, or clean up after the race is over.

Friendly Center

Our last recommendation is the Friendly Center in Orange. This option is perfect for families that are short on time but still want to give back beyond just donating money. The volunteer opportunity involves making a turkey basket and dropping it off for the center to distribute to a family in need. Simply follow the shopping list the Friendly Center provides as you do your own Thanksgiving dinner shopping. Items include essentials like a grocery store gift card to purchase a turkey, boxed stuffing, rolls, cans of corn, yams, pie, and cranberry sauce.

Volunteers put everything in a box or basket wrapped with cellophane, minus the gift cards and pies. Each box should contain enough food for a family of at least five. Then, you can deliver the box to the drop-off location at the time that you've signed up for. All drop-offs are by appointment only and the sign-ups for a drop-off appointment will open November 1st. Be sure to sign-up quickly before all available times are taken.

This guide should help you and your family get involved this Thanksgiving. Here at Audi Mission Viejo, we want to sign off with a reminder of how grateful we are for our customers and amazing community. If you know of any other ways to give back this season, please feel free to let us know.

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