Thanksgiving background. EPS 10.

Thanksgiving is a popular time to donate time, money, and attention to the community. Like any major city, San Diego has plenty of people who need help, and, fortunately, plenty of people who want to help those around them. Last year we shared some ways you and your family could give back at Thanksgiving, and it was one of our most popular posts all year. This year, we bring you some old favorites, and some new ways caregivers, loved ones and home care aides can join forces to help America’s Finest City thrive.

Most of the country is covered with snow around Thanksgiving, which limits the kinds of charitable activities volunteers can sign up for. In San Diego, we are lucky enough to have more than a few outdoor options that make for a lovely day full of gratitude for the whole family. Whether you and your loved ones are runners and walkers, cleaners and organizers, or helpers and carers, we’ve got options for you.

Want to lace up your sneakers and give some sweat and endorphins to a very good cause? These races need runners as well as volunteers to man the route, hand out water, and register participants. Here are just a few of the Thanksgiving races for serious runners, family groups and even dogs:

Does your family love the great outdoors, and want to help keep San Diego’s natural beauty clean, safe and healthy? Here are just three ways San Diego would love to put your talents to use making our beautiful city even more so:

  • Imperial Beach Pier Cleanup: November 26th, 9 a.m.–11 a.m.

    • Bring your own reusable bag, bucket, bottle and gloves. All ages welcome; tools and supplies provided; advance registration required for groups larger than 25 people.
  • San Diego River Park Foundation has two river clean-up days scheduled to remove trash and debris from the river. All ages are welcome!

    • November 19th, 9AM – 12PM: in Santee at 8713 Big Rock Rd. Santee, CA 92071.
    • December 3rd, 9AM – 12PM: in Mission Gorge, starting and ending at Benchmark Brewery (6190 Fairmount Ave, Suite G, San Diego, CA 92120)
  • Mission Trails Regional Park. Volunteer year-round in the Visitors Center, on the trails or in the beautification crew – they need helpers of all ages, interests and skill sets! (Mission Trails Regional Park, One Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119)

If you and your loved ones prefer to help face-to-face, there are many food pantries and kitchens that need help for Thanksgiving. These are just a handful of the groups that are looking for volunteers before and on Thanksgiving Day:

  • San Diego Food Bank. Opportunities available all next week, except Thanksgiving Day.
  • Feeding San Diego: November 19th, 9AM – 12PM. Volunteer open house, orientation and sign-up.
  • Helen Woodward Animal Center, AniMeals program. Help homebound seniors and the disabled to feed their companion animals – more than 250 pets a week! – by donating dry food, wet food, and Ziploc bags, or by running a food drive at your office, class or club. (AniMeals Supervisor at (858) 756-4117, ext. 341 or

Don’t see anything that moves you and your family this season? Go to where you can search for volunteer opportunities all over San Diego County by age, activity type, and cause. Passionate about the environment, or animals? Good with a computer, or garden tools? Want to involve your children, or get out by yourself? Find exactly what you’re looking for and make a difference exactly the way you want to. If you are looking forward to family, fun and food next week, consider spending some time helping San Diegans who don’t have the same good fortune. Happy Thanksgiving!