Put Gratitude into Action this Thanksgiving 2016

Check out these ideas for volunteering this Thanksgiving.
Volunteer Opportunities in San Diego, Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving is a great time volunteer with your family. If you’re feeling thankful for everything you have this season, consider sharing the gift of your time. Whether feeding the hungry, cleaning San Diego beaches, helping at a charitable fun run or volunteering at a local organization—people (and pets) need your compassion and support. Here are family volunteer opportunities throughout San Diego County.

Father Joe’s Villages Thanksgiving Day 5K Run/Walk, Balboa Park

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (registration)
Thursday, Nov. 24, 6 a.m.–11 a.m.
Help with registration, water stations, cheering on runners and more. On Nov. 23, volunteers can assist with registering other volunteers. For more information, email Kia Howard: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 1-800-HOMELESS.

Feeding San Diego Volunteer Open House, Sorrento Valley 


Saturday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m.–Noon

Learn about volunteer opportunities, tour the facility and try several ongoing volunteer projects. Must wear closed-toe shoes. Ages 6–16 must be accompanied by parent/guardian. Register in advance online. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Just Call Us Volunteers 

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m.–Noon (prep day)
Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.–Noon (serving day)

Online volunteer registration opens the first week of November and is expected to fill up quickly for the Thanksgiving meal, so register early. Check Facebook page for updates. Must wear closed-toe shoes and pull back long hair; no tank tops. Everyone helps wash dishes, so wear comfortable clothes that can get dirty. Volunteers meet at the “Just Call Us” kitchen in Clairemont Mesa for orientation and caravan to the service location. Kids ages 8+ can serve only, with parental supervision.

United Way of San Diego County


Visit the United Way website for ongoing volunteer opportunities.

Pacific Marine Credit Union O’side Turkey Trot, Oceanside 


Tuesday, Nov. 22
Wednesday, Nov. 23
Thursday, Nov. 24 (race day)

Families with kids of all ages are encouraged to hand out water and cheer on the 10,000+ runners/walkers on race day. Older kids can help with pre-race activities. All volunteers (and interested participants) can register online.

San Diego Food Bank, Sorrento Valley


Opportunities available all week, except Thanksgiving Day (closed)

Families can help sort and bag food donations at the warehouse throughout the year. Morning, afternoon or evening shifts available, Monday–Saturday, except major holidays. Ages 6–15 are welcome with parent; teens 16+ can come on their own. Register online.

Imperial Beach Pier Cleanup

Saturday, Nov. 26, 9 a.m.–11 a.m.

Bring your own reusable bag, bucket, bottle and gloves. Wear comfortable clothes, closed-toe shoes and sunscreen. All volunteers must sign a liability waiver. All ages welcome; kids under 18 require a parent’s signature. Registration is not required unless a group is larger than 25 people. To register, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

San Diego Humane Society


Tours available when dropping off donations before Thanksgiving.

Help sheltered animals through the Pawsitive Service program by making enrichment toys (ie: cat hammocks) or post flyers to help animals get adopted. Support a specific program, location or department from the comfort of home by purchasing items from the Humane Society’s Amazon wish lists: www.sdhumane.org/how-you-can-help/donate/donate-wish-list-items/. Items will be shipped directly to San Diego Humane Society. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details and to schedule a tour of the shelter if/when you drop off donations.

San Diego Run for the Hungry 5K/10K, Downtown 


Tuesday, Nov. 22 (race packet pick-up at Roadrunner Sports, Miramar): shifts from 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 24 (race day): shifts start at 5:30 a.m.

Volunteer help is welcome at registration tables, set up and clean up, be a course monitor, support finishers or pass out water and post-race refreshments to participants. All community members may drop off non-perishable foods. No age restrictions. To volunteer, contact Kevin Murphy at 757-705-9618 or register online.

San Diego South Bay Turkey Trot 15K/10K/5K, Bonita 


Thursday, Nov. 24

Families can volunteer at water stations on race day. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure the whole family is placed together. Adult help is also needed with registration, parking and at the starting line. Register online. Non-perishable food donations will also be collected for the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Donations, Countywide
Volunteer opportunities available throughout the week

Ring the bell while collecting Red Kettle donations with your family during this iconic holiday fundraising drive. Collections pay for holiday meals for those in need, along with related programs lasting all year long. Feel free to dress up like elves or sing Christmas carols while you volunteer! Sign up online or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more info.

Thanksgiving in a Box, Solutions for Change, Vista


Drop off boxes Nov. 14–18, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Creatively decorate a cardboard box and place (specified) groceries inside to feed a family of five. Drop off Thanksgiving boxes during requested dates to Solutions for Change, 722 W. California Ave., Vista. Visit website for detailed list of requested items.

Third Avenue Charitable Organization (TACO), Downtown

Monday, Nov. 21, 3:30 p.m.–5:15 p.m.

Volunteers help prepare and serve meals twice a week, year-round, including Thanksgiving week. Teen youth groups are invited to provide special event entertainment during meal times. TACO is also seeking assistance during the Christmas season to prepare food baskets and personal hygiene kits for the homeless. Kids 5+ welcome; must be accompanied by an adult. Register online. Contact volunteer coordinator Brad Young at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Lisa Pawlak is a local mom and regular contributor to San Diego Family.

Published October 2016

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!