Why we shouldn’t volunteer on Thanksgiving

Elicia Locke, Staff member

Before you decide that your good deed for the year should be going to a shelter on Thanksgiving to distribute food to the homeless, you should ask to see what kind of help is needed. Oftentimes shelters are overrun with more volunteers than homeless for one day out of the year.

The solution is simple. Call ahead of time to see what help these shelters actually need. Longtime shelter worker, who goes by the pen name Ren Jender, posted on her blog in Autostraddle about her experience dealing with the overwhelming crowd of volunteers who come in one Thursday in November but are nowhere to be seen the rest of the year.

In a Dear Abby advice column, a year-round volunteer advised that money donations or volunteers provided before or after Thanksgiving are what shelters really need.

As college students, we may not have much money to give, but calling our local shelter ahead of time to see when and where help is needed is far more beneficial than simply showing up on Thanksgiving to ask what we can do. Volunteer work is good and it is a good thing to benefit one’s community, but make a plan before you decide to add to the overwhelming volunteer load and get stuck with busywork on Thanksgiving.

We can do so much more to help on the other 364 days of the year, so there is no need to push it all into a single day.