Five Volunteer Ideas to Honor Your Loved One This Thanksgiving

Posted by: Erin Ward in Grief and Guidance, Memorialization | November 4

Grief is year-round when you lose someone special, but it’s especially difficult during the holidays, like Thanksgiving. One meaningful way to honor their memory while making a positive difference in the lives of others is to volunteer in your community. You can gather your family and friends to spread joy and give back to others while keeping your loved one’s memory close. Here are a few ideas.


1. Donate Food to Families in Need This Thanksgiving 

One way to honor your loved one this Thanksgiving is to donate food to your local food pantry. It’s a good idea to reach out beforehand and see what items they need the most. Oftentimes, they need non-perishable pantry items like canned vegetables and soup, pasta, and rice. 

Another idea is to cook some Thanksgiving dishes for families in need in your community. You could even make your loved one’s favorite Thanksgiving food or use their recipes.  


2. Give Back to Your Local Nursing Homes and Hospice Centers 

Did your loved one live at your local nursing home or hospice center? Express your gratitude to the staff for taking care of your loved one by volunteering your time. If you cooked some Thanksgiving dishes, see if you can bring them in for the residents and staff. After dinner, you could play games with the residents and listen to their life stories. They could even share their favorite memories with your loved one. 


3. Make a Donation in Your Loved One’s Name 

Another way to give back while honoring your loved one is to make a donation in your loved one’s name. This could be a monetary donation to your local food pantry or another organization or cause that your loved one was passionate about. You also could see if your family and friends want to contribute. 


4. Gather Your Family and Friends to Participate in a Local Walk/Run 

Many communities host a 5K run/walk for Thanksgiving and have charities you can donate to and raise awareness for. To honor your loved one, you could see what events are near you and create a group to run or walk in their memory. Or you could reach out to the event organizer to see if they need any more volunteers. 


5. Reach Out to Your Local Funeral Home About Their Upcoming Events 

Many funeral homes host events around the holidays, such as remembrance dinners and ceremonies. Some are even live streaming their events, so families can attend virtually if they live far away or for health reasons.  

To see what events that you could attend or volunteer at, reach out to your local funeral home for more information. You also could ask them about their grief resources, mementos, and any recommendations for grief counselors in your area. To start, visit their website to see what you can find and then contact them for more information. 


What other volunteer ideas do you have to honor your loved one this Thanksgiving? Share them in the comments.

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