With all the stress the pandemic has caused, it’s easy to forget to make time to volunteer and help others in need. But devoting energy to doing good does more than just help out those less fortunate – it sets a good example for kids. It can also make you happier and improve mental health during a time of increased anxiety and depression.

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Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that we have and to find some ways to (safely) volunteer. While there may be new restrictions during COVID, many organizations still need your help. Check out these ideas and schedule some time to give back.

  • Donate to a Food Bank – Organizations like Community Food Bank of New Jersey are in need of food donations, monetary donations and volunteers. Its annual Turkey Drive still needs helpers. The event will take place outdoors and volunteers must be 10 or older.
  • Write Letters to Our TroopsOperation Gratitude has so many ways for families and individuals to make a difference. From writing letters to making paracord survival bracelets that can help our troops and first responders in a pinch, the #VirtualVolunteerism call to action is going strong.
  • Color a Smile – Your child can bring a smile to seniors, our troops overseas and anyone in need of cheering up through the Color a Smile. It’s a great way to get involved from the safety of your home.
  • Donate Toys – Take a day to do a toy cleanout with your kids before the influx of holiday presents and then donate any in good condition to Second Chance Toys. You’ll be helping a child in need get access to play and reach important developmental milestones while also keeping plastic out of landfills.
  • Send Gifts to Kids in Need – Through Frosty’s Friends, your family can answer a letter from a child in need right here in NJ and fulfill their wish. These are kids who normally do not receive presents at the holidays so participation will surely put things in perspective for your little ones.
  • Deliver Meals to Seniors – Through Meals on Wheels, you can deliver food to seniors in need and most importantly, check in on them and bring a smile to their day. Due to COVID, the need for volunteers varies by community so check in with your local chapter.
  • Visit Your YMCA – Many local Y’s are up and running again and need the community to come together during COVID to help. Through programs like Togetherhood and Mosaic of Messages there are so many ways to get involved.

With a little love and effort, you and your family can make a big difference in the lives of others. Hopefully, volunteering can become a new tradition that inspires gratitude in your kids throughout the entire year.