Former Atlanta Hawks player Dikembe Mutombo, center, serves meals during the annual Hosea Helps Thanksgiving dinner at the Georgia World Congress Center in 2017. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Celebrate holiday by helping others in need

The falling colored leaves through the crisp November air and the smell of pumpkin spice and turkey roasting in the oven among loved ones is what Thanksgiving is all about, right? It can be easy to forget sometimes about the most important part of this beloved holiday – giving thanks. The best way to show that gratitude is to share it by helping someone else in their struggle.

With 14.3 percent of Georgia residents living in poverty according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, many families will go without a celebratory meal or perhaps any food at all. This year there are many life-changing opportunities to give back to the community and volunteer with friends and family through local organizations.

Atlanta Mission

Atlanta Mission has been fighting homelessness since 1938 by providing emergency shelter, rehab and recovery services, vocational training, transitional housing and more to more than 1,000 people living on the streets each day. Get together with your friends and family in a group of five to 10 people and help prepare a cooked meal to serve to their hungry clients. This group volunteer opportunity does not require a budget. Volunteers must be at least 16 years old and wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed-toe shoes for safely handling food. Sign up online two weeks in advance to schedule your desired date of service. You can also donate online to help provide food, shelter and warm clothes.

My Sister’s House, 921 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta. 404-588-4000,

Darryl Byrd receives a trim to his beard during the annual Hosea Helps Thanksgiving dinner at the Georgia World Congress Center in 2017. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hosea Helps

Hosea Helps, long known as Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, serves more than 20,000 meals to those in need during the holiday season. The organization was founded in 1971 by the late civil rights leader Hosea Williams. In addition to the hearty meals, Hosea Helps offers free barber and beauty services to hundreds of children, women and men. At each event, the organization also provides free clothing, including warm winter coats, scarves and socks. There are year-round opportunities to volunteer and donate, and you can find out how at The organization’s Thanksgiving event takes place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta. 404-755-3353,

Hands On Atlanta

Give back to the community in a variety of ways such as environmental services, assisting with art projects, educational tutoring, serving food, caring for seniors and more with Hands On Atlanta. There are opportunities with hundreds of non-profits and schools across metro Atlanta available online every day to fit your schedule. View the complete volunteer calendar and register to serve online.

600 Means St., Suite 100, Atlanta. 404-979-2800,

Lift Up Atlanta

Provide more than 300 families with a complete Thanksgiving meal by donating a basket filled with food items such as boxes of macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes, cans of vegetables, stuffing packages, pie mix and money for a turkey or ham. Individual donations are also helpful and can be dropped off at the Fulton County Oak Hill Center 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Volunteers are needed to help organize and distribute the baskets from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23. View the complete list of needed donations and sign up online.

Fulton County Oak Hill Center, 2805 Metropolitan Parkway SW, Atlanta. 678-245-4622,

Karson Brown, left, laughs as she prepares a meal during the annual Hosea Helps Thanksgiving dinner at the Georgia World Congress Center in 2017. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Children’s Restoration Network

Volunteering with the annual Thanksgiving food drive hosted by Children’s Restoration Network ensures that the thousands of children living in homeless shelters get to celebrate with a proper holiday meal. This organization serves these children and their mothers across Atlanta by providing services and events to aid their academic, emotional and physical needs. Register to help prepare the meals online or simply give a donation to assist with the food costs. You can even create your own online fundraiser to spread the word and further help the cause.

11285 Elkins Road, Suite C-4, Roswell. 770-649-7117,

North Fulton Community Charities

North Fulton Community Charities provides numerous services and events to assist locals financially throughout the area. For Thanksgiving, they are providing families with everything they need from the grocery store for the perfect holiday dinner. Contribute to the cause by donating non-perishable food items and Visa gift cards to their holiday distribution site from 4–7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, and Friday, Nov. 22. Volunteers are also needed to help sort, bag and distribute the donated goods from Nov. 22-24. Sign up for your preferred time slot online and be aware that some heavy lifting will be required.

310 North Point Circle, Alpharetta. 770-640-0399,

Many places are accepting donations of turkeys, hams and other food items to ensure that no one goes hungry on Thanksgiving.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Never Alone

Volunteers will be needed in Woodstock to supply families in Cherokee County with a full Thanksgiving meal. Donate money online or drop off turkeys, hams and other Thanksgiving food items to the Never Alone office between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. They are looking for personal hygiene product donations as well. If you’re at least 13 years old, you can register online to help pack the Thanksgiving dinner boxes, schedule client pickup appointments, and distribute the boxes to the families on Nov. 22 and 23.

291 Ropemill Road, Woodstock. 470-302-4055,

The Catholic Shrine 

Another place accepting food donations to supply families with full Thanksgiving dinners is the Catholic Shrine of Atlanta. They need canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, evaporated milk, instant potatoes, pasta and stuffing mix. Donations can be dropped off at their office from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

48 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW, Atlanta. 404-521-1866,

A.G. Rhodes

Share the joy and comfort of the holidays with someone who needs it most at one of A.G. Rhodes’ nursing homes. Spend some quality time with the senior residents at one of their three metro Atlanta locations and participate in group activities like games or arts and crafts to make their Thanksgiving extra special. They also have therapeutic opportunities to volunteer for including bringing pets, maintaining the greenhouse and playing music. Groups, families and individuals 14 years or older are welcome to volunteer by applying online.

350 Boulevard SE, Atlanta. 404-688-6731. Cobb, 900 Wylie Road SE, Marietta. 770-427-8727. Wesley Woods, 1819 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta. 404-315-0900,

Karson Brown, left, laughs as she prepares a meal during the annual Hosea Helps Thanksgiving dinner at the Georgia World Congress Center in 2017. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Gobble Jog

This Thanksgiving, the Marietta Daily Journal is teaming up with MUST Ministries, a non-profit that strives to provide food, clothing, shelter and job preparation to people throughout the Cobb County community. To raise proceeds to further their fight against poverty, they are hosting the Gobble Jog on Nov. 28 at Marietta Square featuring a 10k run, 5k run/walk, 1k run/walk and even a Tot Trot for the little ones. Registration prices start at $30 and include a t-shirt. There will be a packet pickup event from 10 a.m.-6 pm. on Nov. 27 at the Cobb Civic Center where participants can register and receive their shirt and number. They can also register at the square on the day of the race at 6:30 a.m. before they begin at 7:30 a.m. For those wanting to contribute but not run, there are many other volunteer positions available online including helping set up, get people registered, hand out water, wear the turkey mascot costume and more.

39-75 E. Park Square, Marietta. 770-427-9862,

United Way Gobble Wobble

United Way of Forsyth County is hosting the fourth annual Gobble Wobble 5k/10k marathon to raise proceeds for their fight for health, education, financial stability and basic needs of the local people for a stronger community. There will also be a kid’s fun run so the entire family can participate. The race begins bright and early Thanksgiving morning at 7:15 a.m. at South Forsyth High School on Nov. 28. Registration for adults starts at $35 and can be done the morning of the race at 6:30 a.m., online or at the North GA Running Company in Cumming where participants can also pick up their race packets from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 25-27 If interested in volunteering for registration help and set up, give the office a call.

South Forsyth High School 585 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming. 678-771-8270,

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