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Paying it Forward – Volunteer Opportunity in Los Angeles This Thanksgiving

November 16th, 2011 by MomsLA

This is a part of a series of volunteer opportunities in the Los Angeles area.

I have had some really crappy stuff happen to me recently.  But right on the tail of that I had some amazing friends shower me with their love and generosity.  I am never going to repay these wonderful ladies so I promised them I would pay it forward.

This Thanksgiving, instead of helping myself to another piece of turkey I will be helping others.  I have called around and did some research and found the following volunteer opportunities.

North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry:

While they don’t specify anything for Thanksgiving specifically they are always looking for volunteers and have many ways of utilizing your help.

From their site:

There are several packing teams who pack groceries at Temple Beth Hillel.  Dates and times of individual teams are arranged through the Packing Team Coordinator, Leslye Adelman.  Please contact Leslye at (818) 789-1031 or email her at to get involved.

The Transportation Teams transport the packed groceries from Temple Beth Hillel to First Christian Church located on Colfax Avenue throughout the week.  The dates and times of the individual teams are organized by the Transportation Team Coordintor, Chris Wilkinson.  Please contact Chris at (818)515-5753 or email him at to get involved.

Transportation teams pickup Thursdays and Sundays using a provided truck.
The whole process transporting from 150-200 prepacked bags of food takes about one hour to complete.

Thursday pickup teams generally operate between 5:00-8:00PM.
Sunday pickup teams generally operate between 8:00-9:30AM and 1:00-3:00PM.
Food Distribution Teams:


The Food Distribution Teams are responsible for distributing food to our clients at First Christian Church.  These teams work during our hours of operation on Mondays and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.   These teams are coordinated by Susan Sanders. Please call Susan at 818-385-0574 or e-mail her at

St. Monica’s Catholic Community:

They do a Thanksgiving Dinner the night before that is open to any who need it.  They also hold a boutique afterwards with free clothing (mostly winter/cold weather clothing) while supplies last.

From their site:


Over 500 volunteer spaces are available for the event including prep and set up for the event,during the event itself and cleanup. Signups will be held after all weekend liturgies in November up to Sunday, November 20th in the Duval Center.

Food and Beverage Donations Needed

  • Over 100 cooked turkeys are needed for the dinner.
  • 160 cooked pumpkin pies.
  • Non-perishable food items including canned cranberry sauce, and green beans; canned or bottled gravy; boxed or bagged stuffing and mashed potatoes. Cans of coffee are also welcome.

Turkeys and pies are accepted the morning of the dinner. Non perishable food items can be donated before and after all weekend liturgies in November up to Sunday, November 20 and left in bins outside of the Duval Center.

We keep track of all food donations and ask that you let us know what you plan to donate either by dropping in the Duval Center after mass in November after all the weekend liturgies or leaving a message with Marcus at

Clothing Donations Needed

  • New and used clothing with a special request for winter weather items such as men’s and women’s coats, sweaters, ponchos, hoodies and rain gear, jackets, as well as umbrellas, caps, mitts, and gloves.
  • Sleeping bags are needed and blankets are needed.
  • Backpacks or sturdy bags to carry items are welcomed.
  • All donated items must be clean.
  • Majority of our guests are men so men’s clothing is of particular need.

Westside Community Dinner & Thanksgiving Celebration:

What an amazing event.  Looking through their website you can tell this is a well thought out and planned event.  There are jobs for everyone big and small.  This would be a great opportunity for families as they include children as young as 7 in the volunteering duties.  Look at this list:

WEDNESDAY – 8am – 5pm

  • Kitchen Prep – 8am-6pm – Setup, organize and kitchen prep before the big day, Thursday
  • Setup & Decorate – 6pm-9pm – help setup tables, chairs, decorations, etc. for the festivities

THANKSGIVING DAY – starting at 6am

  • Beverage Server – Serve beverages to our guests
  • Bottle Washer – Dishwashing in the kitchen
  • Children’s Carnival Set Up – Help prepare/setup front lawn for carnival
  • Children’s Carnival – Assist children in games and activities on front lawn
  • Christmas Cards – Help guests waiting in line send a greeting card to someone
  • Clothing – Organize, sort, shop, help guests find what they need. Ages 7+
  • Coffee/Outside Servers – Make coffee. Serve coffee, beverages & nosh to guests waiting in line outside. Ages 7+
  • Cooks – If you can’t stand the heat…
  • Decoration – Help decorate and setup for Thanksgiving festivities. Ages 7+
  • Hat Check – Store guests’ belongings while they are having dinner
  • Hosts – Greet and seat guests as they enter Civic Center to have dinner. Spanish helpful. Ages 16+
  • Hygiene Kits – Create and pass out hygiene kits
  • Kitchen Runners – Carry turkeys, pies, & donations from curb to kitchen. Can you carry a turkey?
  • Pantry Cooks – Dry goods & salad preparation in kitchen
  • Pie Servers – Serve pies to guests – especially good for children. Ages 7+
  • Recycling/Bussers – Clear tables and organize recycling station
  • Security – Keep order and peace
  • Servers – Dish up food for waiters to deliver. Ages 16+
  • Spanish Speakers – English/Spanish Translation. Medical vocabulary especially helpful
  • Hair Stylists – You DO NOT need to be licensed.  Bring your tools.
  • Thank You’s Team – Address & decorate thank you cards. Ages 7+
  • Turkey Carvers – Slice turkey for serving
  • Volunteer Check-in – Greet, Sign-in & volunteers in for their shift upon arrival. Good people skills and patience is helpful
  • Waiters – Deliver food plates to guests. Ages 16+


  • Basement Brigade – Pack up & Store equipment in the basement.  Be a TRUE saint
    of Thanksgiving.  Help us load up!
  • Post Kitchen Production – Organize, sort, count, pack up the tools & equipment
  • Post Production – Sort and store equipment, distribute leftovers, load trucks, take down decorations. Ages 7+

If you don’t have time to volunteer in person, please take a look at ScaryMommy’s post.  She is matching families who can donate $25 with families who are in need of some support:

If you could use help putting food on the table, please say so in the comments (anonymously, if you wish- I just need your e-mail and that remains private.) If you have $25 to spare this year, please say so, too. My hope is to match two $25 donors up with moms in need, giving those moms $50 gift cards to their local grocery stores so they can buy their Thanksgiving ingredients. Leave a comment with what you can give, and I’ll be in touch.

Her initial goal was to match up 2 families, she has since matched up many many more.

However, where ever, please always remember to Pay it Forward.

Adrienne enjoys making huge family dinners at Adrienne’s House, too bad her family doesn’t enjoy eating them (picky picky eaters).

MomsLA (501 Posts)


  1. Please tell me the contact person for the Westside Thanksgiving celebration. I didn’t see info in the article.

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