They say it's better to give than to receive, and that's especially true during the year-end holiday season. But the giving doesn't have to just mean presents or money -- it can also come in the form of donating time to help those in need. Across North Carolina, volunteers are needed during the crucial and hectic holiday season to prepare meals, organize donations, and serve others. This Thanksgiving, give some of your time to helping your community. From the mountains to the coast, here’s a collection of worthy N.C. organizations that need your help this November (and beyond!).


Triangle Area

Helping Hand Mission
623 Rock Quarry Road
Raleigh, N.C. 27610

The Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh assists families in need by providing food, clothing, furniture, and shelter. This year, volunteers are needed to help distribute and deliver food baskets containing Thanksgiving dinner the day before Turkey Day. Volunteers are also needed in November to help with programs like their New Bern House Food Pantry Program, Operation Warm Clothing, and serving meals at their New Bern House Soup Kitchen.

Durham Rescue Mission
P.O. Box 11858
Durham, N.C. 27703

The Durham Rescue Mission is Durham’s oldest and largest long-term homeless shelter, providing food, clothing, and permanent supportive housing for men, women, and children in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. Their annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner on Nov. 22 needs volunteers to help set up and serve a traditional dinner. Volunteers are also needed for activities like game booths and free grocery giveaways, as well as cleaning up after the event.

Smithfield Rescue Mission
523 Glenn St.
Smithfield, N.C. 27577

For over 40 years, the Smithfield Rescue Mission has provided meals and shelter for the homeless and those affected by a crisis. They operate both a men’s and women’s shelter, and need volunteers to help serve meals at both locations on Thanksgiving Day. Prior to the holiday, volunteers are needed to pack and deliver holiday dinner baskets.

Charlotte Area

Charlotte Rescue Mission
P.O. Box 33000
Charlotte, N.C. 28233

Since 1938, the Charlotte Rescue Mission has helped those in Charlotte battling addictions and homelessness. In its current incarnation, it offers addiction recovery programs for men and women, and provides food, clothing, and shelter to families. The Charlotte Rescue Mission needs Thanksgiving holiday volunteers for the whole month of November to prep and sort pre-holiday meal donations, as well as volunteers to help prepare and serve meals on the actual holiday. Donations of turkeys and homemade desserts are sought as well, and drivers are needed for food deliveries.

Urban Ministry Center
945 North College St.
Charlotte, N.C. 28206

Urban Ministry’s Soup Kitchen first opened in Charlotte in 1979, and has been serving meals ever since. The center provides a hot lunch every single day of the year, holidays included. Individual and group volunteers are needed to help prepare meals leading up to the holiday. Happily, their quota for volunteers on Thanksgiving Day has already been met. Another way to help? Operation Sandwich provides 800 sandwiches a day (that’s almost 300,000 a year!) to those in need. Volunteers to make and bag sandwiches are always welcome, holiday weekend or not.

United Way Hands On Charlotte
301 S Brevard Street
Charlotte, N.C. 28202

United Way offers a whole volunteer calendar of opportunities across the Charlotte area ranging from spending time with seniors to gardening to volunteering at the Thanksgiving Day Parade to sorting and packing food for the hungry. Thanksgiving Day brings the Thanksgiving Bonanza for Seniors, a special event to celebrate the holiday with those who may be alone otherwise. Volunteers are needed to help with bingo games, socialization, and music.

Wilmington Area

Good Shepherd Center
811 Martin Street
Wilmington, N.C. 28401

Last year, the Good Shepherd Center Soup Kitchen served 89,895 hot meals to homeless and low-income guests. Volunteers prepare three nutritious meals a day, seven days a week. Lunch is their biggest meal – and taking a long lunch break to volunteer to help prepare and serve meals makes a big difference. In addition to meal prep and serving, volunteers are needed to collect food from area grocery stores, restaurants and bakeries for distribution to the hungry through the Soup Kitchen and 16 local feeding programs.

Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina
Multiple N.C. Locations

Serving 34 counties, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina has multiple locations across the state and relies on volunteers to ensure nutritious food reaches nearly 630,000 individuals living in food-insecure households. From Durham to Wilmington, from the Sandhills to New Bern, volunteers are wanted to help prepare for the holiday season. Needs vary depending on location, but volunteers can always be used to organize and sort food donations.

Nourish NC
601 Greenfield St.
Wilmington, N.C. 28401

No child in N.C. should have to go hungry. The mission of Nourish NC is to provide healthy food to hungry children, empowering them to succeed in the classroom and in their community. “Our goal is to enhance children’s health and well-being by preventing the devastating consequences of child hunger.” Nourish NC provides all children in their program with three meals a day via monthly or school break Nourish Boxes, ensuring children maintain a healthy eating schedule. Snacks, juice, milk and fresh produce are also included. There’s also a food bank, a mobile Farmers Market, and a Backpack Program so children have meals outside of school. Volunteers are needed to help organize food in their warehouse, and to pack food backpacks and boxes.

Asheville Area

MANNA FoodBank
627 Swannanoa River Road
Asheville, N.C. 28805-2445

Individuals and groups of volunteers are needed to sort and pack the food donations, as well as work special events. “From bins of apples straight from the orchard to 2,000-pound totes of rice, volunteers ensure that there are always hands at the ready to pack the food for distribution. Volunteers also pitch in to help with special events and projects like Rotarians Against Hunger food packing event, the National Letter Carriers Food Drive, and the Ingles Giving Tree.”

Western Carolina Rescue Ministries
225 Patton Avenue
Asheville, N.C. 28802

Ready to prepare and serve a holiday banquet for those in need? Western Carolina Rescue Ministries needs volunteers to help with big meals, as well as organizing donated clothing and food for food boxes. If outdoor work is more up your alley, they also need help with maintaining their grounds.

Loving Food Resources
P.O. Box 25142
Asheville, N.C. 28813

Those who are homebound or in hospice care with illness or specials needs also need a meal on Thanksgiving Day – and every day. Loving Food Resources is a food pantry that provides food, health, and personal care items to people in 18 counties of Western N.C. who are living with HIV/AIDS or who are in home hospice care with any diagnosis. Volunteers are needed to staff their food pantry on the weekends, organize food and products, and drive clients to the food pantry. They also organize a Turkey Bowl to help earn money to ensure turkeys are in their food boxes during the holidays.

Have a busy holiday season and don’t have time to volunteer? Every organization on this list would benefit from and greatly appreciate a monetary donation. Every little bit helps.

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