Between eating til' you drop on Thanksgiving day, binge shopping on Black Friday, and washing it all down with one more money-spending reprise on Cyber Monday, let's just say this holiday week can easily become one of excess. It's easy to forget about the fact that Thanksgiving should be about exactly what it's named for: Giving thanks. And what's even more effective in spreading ~joy to the world~ than just giving thanks? Giving time, energy, love, and resources to others. Duh! There are lots of Thanksgiving charity ideas and ways to give back that you can incorporate into your traditions this year that will legit help make a difference in people's lives — and make you feel good, too.
While the true history of Thanksgiving is unfortunately pretty incongruous with the values we associate with it today, we do have the power to make it about something more. If we want to observe the holiday more consciously (which is true for many of us!), there are lots of steps we can take— and a good place to start is by using the occasion to give back to those in need.
Here are some ideas for types of charities to donate to this Thanksgiving, as well as other ways to give back to those in need and spread some love for the holidays.
Make A Donation
Giving back can be as simple as making a monetary donation to an organization that's working to make a difference. If you're in a position to do so, give some funds to an nonprofit organization or other agency that's getting serious work done on an issue you care about. Do some research on your own and use a third-party site like CharityNavigator.org to help you find a super legit place to give.
Stand Up For Human Rights
People all over our country are facing massive injustices — especially given our current political climate. If you want to help, choose a charity such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which fights injustice by helping people "defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Other organizations, like The Trevor Project, also focus in on LGBTQ+ rights.
Support The Homeless Population
So many people are affected by homelessness — and with the weather getting colder by the day, this issue becomes even more pressing than it already is. Consider donating to an org like National Alliance To End Homelessness which helps to end and prevent homelessness through legal advocacy.
Help Feed The Hungry
Did you know that one in six kids faces hunger in the U.S.? It's not exactly an uplifting fact to think about when you're about to gorge yourself on a Thanksgiving feast — and that's exactly what should compel you to take action. Donate to a charity like No Kid Hungry to help ensure everyone has food on their plate.
Help Those Affected By The California Wildfires
With wildfires still raging on, tens of thousands of people in California have already been displaced, and dozens have tragically lost their lives. Many people have been left with nothing at all, so consider donating to an organization that's helping with the very current crisis that so many people will be dealing with this holiday.
Stand With Women
2018 can be the year of the woman — but let's make sure this is just the beginning. Put your bucks toward organizations that fight for womens' rights to control and access care for their own bodies, such as Planned Parenthood or the Center For Reproductive Rights.
Buy From Brands That Give Back
If you're going to be doing some Black Friday shopping anyway, you may as well put your money toward brands or items that give back. Brands like eyeware company Warby Parker and shoe company TOMS donate a product to someone in need for every product purchased. There are also tons of cute items that give their proceeds to charity, such as the adorable Jen Gotch x Iconery necklaces (100 percent of the net proceeds of which go directly to mental health advocacy), or these super cute Stella And Bow "Nasty" bracelets (100 percent of this item's proceeds goes to Planned Parenthood).
Fundraise & Spread The Word
If there's a charity you're excited about donating to, don't keep it to yourself — spread the word by creating a fundraiser on Facebook, encouraging your followers to get in on the giving, too.
Turn Your Thanksgiving Into A Food & Items Drive
Instead of simply asking your Friendsgiving guests to bring side dishes, request that everyone also bring a nonperishable food item, lightly used clothes, shoes or blankets that they no longer need, unopened personal hygiene products, or other useful items — then drop them off at a local shelter or homeless organization. It's a super simple way for people to de-clutter their closets and cabinets while also thinking of others and making a contribution.
Volunteer On Thanksgiving Day
If you want to forego some of the typical indulgences of Thanksgiving in favor of doing some IRL volunteer work, good on you — and there are plenty of great ways to get involved. Organizations like Volunteer Match can link you up with tons of volunteer opportunities in your area, so check out their Thanksgiving listings.
Participate In Giving Tuesday
Even if you do up the whole Thanksgiving week in a state of pure "eat/drink/spend money," you can still give back by participating in Giving Tuesday — an annual event that takes place the day after Cyber Monday and is all about making donations to charity. Check out some ideas on ways to get involved.