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Helen Woodward Animal Center’s AniMeals program delivers food for more than 250 pets every week. You can help by organizing a pet food drive for the holidays.

Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is next week, and the holiday season is upon us, filling the calendar with fun, food and family. But not everyone looks forward to this time of year, because we don’t all have family, we don’t all associate the holidays with fun, and many among us don’t have enough food. If you are lucky enough to have all three, then this is the perfect time to think about how you can give of yourself, and give back to the San Diego community you live in. San Diegans spend time all year helping one another, but Thanksgiving seems to bring out the best in us. So whether you are a walker, a runner, a giver, or an organizer, here are several ways you can give back this Thanksgiving 2015.

For the Runners, Walkers, Toddlers and Dogs, Too!:

There’s a race for everyone in this list, no matter where you live in San Diego County, and no matter what type of charity you want your sweat and blisters to benefit. So sign up, get up early, and lace up!

  1. Run For The Hungry 10k & 5k Walk/Run: Thursday, November 26, 2015. Dogs welcome to run!
  2. Del Mar Thanksgiving Family Mile Fun Run: Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 8 a.m. Benefits Helen Woodward Animal Center.
  3. Oceanside Turkey Trot: Thursday, November 26, 2015. Benefits local Oceanside schools and non-profits.
  4. 2nd Annual The San Diego South Bay Turkey Trot and Food Drive 2015: Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 8:00AM. Hosting a food drive for the Salvation Army.
  5. 2015 Coronado 5K Turkey Trot: Thursday, November 26, 2015 @ 8am. Benefits the Rady Pediatric Genomic and Systems Medicine Institute.
  6. Encinitas Turkey Trot: November 26, 2015 at 6:30AM. Supports the North County chapter of the San Diego Food Bank.
  7. Father Joe’s Villages Thanksgiving Day 5K: November 26th, 2015. All proceeds go to Father Joe’s Villages, and offers a Post Race Festival in Balboa Park featuring: Live Music, Beer Garden, Costume Contest and Award Ceremonies.
  8. Running of the Turkeys Trail Run: Thursday, November 26 2015 in Torrey Hills Park.
  9. 6th Annual Thank You Run 5k/10k and Kids Run: Thursday, November 26, 2015 in 4S Ranch.
  10. 2015 Waddle and Trot 5K and Kid’s Fun Run: Thursday, November 26, 2015. All proceeds benefit Santee Santas and the Santee Food Bank.

Community Service

Not a runner, or even a brisk walker? Many San Diego organizations open their doors to the homeless and hungry in our community for holiday meals, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Here is just a short list of well-known San Diego groups that are looking for volunteers to assist with serving meals, or other outreach services, this time of year: Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego Rescue Mission, YWCA of San Diego, and San Diego Food Bank. If you would like to offer your service someplace specific, or even virtually, use the website Volunteer Match to find the type, size and exact location of the charity that needs your help right now.

A Different Kind of Food Drive

Helen Woodward is one of San Diego’s premier animal rescue organizations, and one of the jewels in its crown is the AniMeals program. Homebound seniors and the disabled can find it hard to feed their companion animals – and yet the emotional, physical and psychological benefits of keeping pets together with their owners are both measurable and invaluable. The AniMeals program delivers pet food to more than 250 pets a week, and desperately needs donations of both dry and wet food, as well as Ziploc bags for serving allotments. Scout Troops, classes, offices, service groups or anyone else wanting to make a difference during the holidays can run a food drive for AniMeals. Just contact the AniMeals Supervisor at (858) 756-4117, ext. 341 or ErinO@animalcenter.org, and know that you may be saving two lives at a time.

The holidays are a time for reflection on the year that’s passed, and on all the blessings that we enjoy. And yet this season, for some, can highlight all that is missing or broken, and makes this a difficult time of year. And yet, we know that helping others makes us feel good, inside and out. So no matter what small acts of goodness you commit, know that you’re building your own happiness, one brick at a time. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!