Before you give thanks at the Thanksgiving dinner table Thursday, consider giving back to the agencies in Fairfield County battling hunger and homelessness year-round.
Listed below are platforms to help out by donating food, time, or money this weekend, this holiday season, and year-round. Know of a great charity, event, or organization not listed? Add it to the comments thread at the end of this article:
New Hope Baptist Church
The New Hope Baptist Church runs a food pantry in downtown Danbury that is always in need of food, and the need has never been greater than it is this year.
Bridgeport Rescue Mission
The Bridgeport Rescue Mission (1088 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport) fights poverty in Fairfield County by providing food, shelter, clothing, education, and job training to the urban poor and addicted. While the Mission can always use volunteers and donations, the holiday season is a time to help make a big difference in the lives of the needy.
Interested in helping out on Thanksgiving? Sign up to pack and deliver Thanksgiving Dinner Pantry Boxes and winter coats and gear to families in South Norwalk and Bridgeport. If you can't physically volunteer on Thanksgiving, take the time to give a monetary donation to the Mission, or sign up to donate a "Virtual Turkey" to help feed families on Thursday.
Click here to find out how else you can help the Mission this holiday season.
Connecticut Food Bank: Thanksgiving For All
The Connecticut Food Bank has launched a virtual food drive as part of its campaign to deliver Thanksgiving dinners throughout the state. Those interested can click off different needed items and "donate" them virtually to the food bank to distribute.
You can also donate to the Food Bank's Hurricane Sandy Virtual Food Drive to help families with little or no resources that were affected by the storm.
The Connecticut Food Bank locations throughout the state -- including the Fairfield warehouse on Linwood Avenue -- will close at noon Wednesday, Nov. 21 and will reopen on Monday, Nov. 26. To learn about volunteer opportunities when the locations reopen, click here.
Donate time, food, or money to this organization that benefits several pantries and agencies throughout Fairfield County. Community Plates distributed food to Operation Hope, the Wilton Interfaith Food Pantry, 164 Wilson Food Pantry, the Open Door Shelter, and about a dozen more groups throughout the county. Community Plates' mission is to battle food insecurity in the county by finding and distributing surplus foods from homes, restaurants, stores, and farms.
Learn how to become a "food runner" or how to make a monetary or food donation by clicking here.
VolunteerSquare: Opportunities to Volunteer for the Long Weekend
A four-day weekend means plenty of time to spend with family, friends -- and fellow volunteers. Find and sign up for opportunities that match your interests at VolunteerSquare.com. From disaster relief to animal care and protection to military and veteran support, volunteers will find ways to serve this holiday season and throughout the year.
Check out the VolunteerSquare Executive Director Rachel Reese's blog on Patch for more ways to help out.
Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl Food Drive
Combine the tradition of Thanksgiving Day football and donating nonperishable items to Person-to-Person, a volunteer agency that benefits the needy in the Stamford-Darien-Norwalk area. Person-to-Person will be collecting nonperishables to benefit their food programs at the Thanksgiving Day match between Darien High School and New Canaan High School's football teams. The game kicks off at 10:30 a.m. and tickets cost $5.