Ways to Help Fellow New Yorkers This Holiday Season

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By Caroline Lewis Every year, around this time, people start thinking about all the turkey they're going to eat, the days they will take off from work to be with family and other small gifts for which they are grateful, and they remember those less fortunate. Local soup kitchens and other downtown nonprofits prepare for this outpouring of good will with plenty of special Thanksgiving week volunteer opportunities. We've compiled them here, along with ongoing volunteer efforts that could use your help this Thanksgiving and all year long. The Bowery Mission's Red Door Hunger Drive The mission? Serve 9,000 meals to the homeless and hungry during Thanksgiving week. They are also collecting food and donations for "blessing bags" full of practical cold-weather items, which they give to each guest who passes through. They already have all the volunteers they need to serve meals, but you can still register to raise funds as an individual or with a team. Visit support.bowery.org to sign up or find out what to donate (you can drop off food at the Bowery Mission 24/7). Feeding NYC says 'Adopt a Box' This nonprofit delivers complete meals to thousands of families living in shelters around the city on Thanksgiving. They already reached capacity for volunteers, but you can still "adopt a box" of food by donating money. Visit feedingnyc.org to find out how. Day-after-Thanksgiving Celebration at Visions After you've already feasted, you can help blind and visually impaired tenants of this specialized building celebrate their Thanksgiving. Help decorate, assist seniors and serve meals. Friday, Nov. 23, 3 - 8 p.m. Visions at Selis Manor, 135 W. 23rd St.?646-486-4444. Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts (various locations) You've seen how bad things are in Far Rockaway and other areas, and you're eager to get on the ground, get your hands dirty and help out. The best way to get involved is to contact shelters and resource distribution centers that have been helping to coordinate the aid efforts. Their information is below: CAAAV This Chinatown-based organization has been on the ground since day one of the hurricane and has since focused its efforts on sites that were hit harder than the Lower East Side. They will announce volunteer opportunities on their website, which may include events during Thanksgiving week. Occupy Sandy Recovery This group is linked to many local organizations and recommends that before visiting a site that requires volunteers, you visit one of the two main volunteer intake and distribution centers, located in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and Sunset Park, Queens, respectively. These sites collect donations as well. After orientation, you can help at the distribution center or get dispatched to another site. Visit interoccupy.net/occupysandy for up-to-the-minute information about what they need on the ground. You can also purchase specific goods in high demand to be delivered directly to New Jersey, Staten Island and the Rockaways by using the site's "Wedding Registry."

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