Sharing a home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving is a reminder of what matters in life: connection and belonging. As Oklahomans take the day to appreciate friends and family, they can also look into opportunities to give back.
“Community is as strong as the people who care about it,” says Katie Oatsvall, president and chief executive officer at Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa. “And there’s no better way to show care for a community than through action.”
This Thanksgiving, Oklahomans can make a difference by engaging with the state’s local nonprofits and charitable organizations. From food drives to fundraisers, there are plenty of chances to help those in need.
The Homeless Alliance
Based in Oklahoma City, the Homeless Alliance is on a mission to end homelessness through community-based initiatives and programming. Since many churches in the area offer free dinner on Thanksgiving Day, the Homeless Alliance will provide meals to its guests on Nov. 23; this way, they have a great dinner two days in a row.
To support its efforts, the Homeless Alliance is looking for volunteers to help with preparing turkeys and plating meals. The group is also in need of day center supplies, such as gloves, coats, blankets and other winter items. Those interested in donating can drop off or ship supplies to its campus, or host a donation drive to collect necessary items. To learn more, visit homelessalliance.org.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Serving 53 counties, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is the state’s largest charitable organization focused on hunger relief. Because Oklahoma is the fifth hungriest state in the nation, the Regional Food Bank works to address the root causes of food insecurity.
“We envision a state where no one goes hungry,” says Austin Prickett, the nonprofit’s marketing manager.
Throughout November, the food bank has organized several programs in support of its mission. For instance, it has partnered with FOX 25 and Kroger to hold a holiday food drive from Nov. 1-25. For every grocery purchase, $5 will go to the food bank. The group will also launch its annual Holiday Match program beginning Nov. 15, providing four meals for every dollar that it raises. Through its Holiday Match, monetary donations will be matched dollar for dollar.
“We encourage everyone to give as much as they can,” says Prickett. “We are consistently one of the hungriest states in the nation, so we need all the help we can get to deliver meals to folks.”
To learn about more of the food bank’s philanthropic and volunteer opportunities, visit regionalfoodbank.org.
City Rescue is a faith-based organization that has provided resources to people struggling with homelessness for nearly 60 years. This Thanksgiving, City Rescue will host a banquet for its clients, and the organization is looking for volunteers to staff its Kitchen of Hope.
On Thanksgiving and the days prior, volunteers can help with food preparation or assist with line and drink service. The nonprofit is also in need of donations; it accepts nonperishable food, clothing and hygiene products, including underwear, socks, shampoo and conditioner. To apply to become a volunteer, visit cityrescue.volunteerhub.com.
Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma
Located in Tulsa, the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma serves 24 counties, distributing food to families and 400 partner agencies. For the holiday week, the organization will deliver 5,000 meal boxes, along with serving hot meals on Thanksgiving Day.
The food bank is asking for volunteers to help distribute the meal boxes, and it will also accept donations at its Thanksgiving Meal Drive. To learn more, check out okfoodbank.org/thanksgiving, or browse other volunteer opportunities at okfoodbank.org/volunteer.
Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa
Founded over 50 years ago, Meals on Wheels primarily focuses on cooking and delivering hot meals to seniors who are homebound, serving approximately 750,000 meals annually.
“Our programs serve anyone who has issues consistently cooking or shopping for themselves,” says Oatsvall.
In celebration of the holiday, Tulsa’s Meals on Wheels will prepare a hot Thanksgiving meal for all of its 1,800 clients. The organization is in need of volunteers to help with meal delivery, which requires a commitment of about one hour. Volunteers will select a route that includes five deliveries. To sign up, visit mealsonwheelstulsa.org.
“The need for homebound seniors to have a connection in the community and other people who are looking out for them – that is the power of Meal on Wheels,” says Oatsvall. “It’s so much more than a meal or a knock on the door. It is a connection to the community and resources.”
The Luther Pecan Festival
Main St. and Couch Pecan Orchard
The Fourth Annual Piedmont Turkey Trot
15 Jackson Ave. N.W.
Utica Square, Tulsa
The Market Craft Show
Stride Bank Center, Enid
Guided Walking Tour
Myriad Botanical Gardens, OKC