Thanksgiving is a time to express our gratitude for the good things in life, be it close friends and family, opportunities, good health or even a healthy harvest. It’s also a time when people like to give back, by volunteering at a local soup kitchen, food pantry or food bank or donating funds or food.
This year, however, COVID-19 has turned just about everything on its head. And while most organizations are unable to take volunteers due to safety precautions, there are still ways to help those in need. Here are some things you can do in the Coachella Valley to make those less fortunate have a nice holiday.
Run a ‘5K Your Way!’ for Martha’s Village & Kitchen
Each year, Martha’s Village & Kitchen provides nearly a quarter of a million meals to those in need thanks to monies raised by its annual fundraiser, The Fortem Financial Thanksgiving 5K. This year, the 5K is back with a different look but the same mission.
If you’re interested in participating in “5K Your Way!” between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29 to raise money to combat food insecurity and homelessness in the Coachella Valley, here’s what you need to do:
- Register yourself as an individual, start a team or join an existing team at give.classy.org/mvk5k.
- Pick up your essential race gear on the packet pick-up days (Nov. 24-25) at Westfield Palm Desert. Team Captains will have an early option for team packets.
- Gather family, friends or create your own team and get ready to run or walk. Any way that works for you is the right way to participate.
- Be sure to post photos and tag @MarthasVilllage or hashtag #MVK5K on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Donations can be mailed to Martha’s Village & Kitchen, 83791 Date Avenue, Indio, Calif. 92201.
Donate food, clothing or cash to help local organizations feed and clothe people
Augustine Casino has kicked off its annual holiday food drive benefiting Galilee Center, Coachella Valley Rescue Mission and Martha’s Village & Kitchen. Augustine Casino is rewarding club members with $5 in free slot play for every five or more non-perishable food items donated at the Advantage Club.
Non-perishable and non-expired food items will be accepted at Augustine Casino, 84001 Avenue 54 in Coachella, through Dec. 21. Acceptable food donations include canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, canned meats, macaroni and cheese, rice, beans, tomato sauce, cereal, powdered milk, peanut butter, cooking oil, crackers, soups, baby formula and baby food. Holiday sides such as peas, corn, cranberry sauce and spices are also encouraged. For more information, call (760) 391-9500 or visit augustinecasino.com.
Providing meals as well as food items and groceries to local men, women and children, Coachella Valley Rescue Mission (CVRM) has set a goal to provide 30,000 Thanksgiving meals. To do that, they could use your help. Share a gift today to feed hungry people in the desert community this season by helping to fill CVRM’s pantry with the following items: turkeys, pies, stuffing mix, rolls and butter, potatoes, fresh vegetables, yams and marshmallows and canned gravy.
These much needed items can be dropped off anytime at the mission, which is located at 47470 Van Buren Street, Indio. Delivery is contact-free. cvrm.org
FIND Food Bank, which distributes thousands of pounds of food across eastern Riverside and southern San Bernardino Counties, is always seeking food or monetary donations. They are especially looking for donations of shelf-stable proteins, like creamy peanut butter, canned chicken and tuna.
Desert Hot Springs-based Food Now, whose volunteers distribute 700,000 pounds of healthy and nutritious food per year, is always accepting food donations on Mondays and Tuesdays between 8 a.m. and noon at 14080 Palm Drive, Suite E, in Desert Hot Springs. foodnowdhs.org
The Galilee Center in Mecca relies on donations to help assist local disadvantaged and impoverished families by providing food, clothing and other basic needs. To learn more or to donate, visit galileecenter.org/donate.
Well in the Desert provides clothing, showers and a cooling center seven days a week, plus nutritious hot meals five days a week. The organization is seeking donations of specific items, such as deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, dry dog food, bandanas, eye drops, sleeping bags and more. For a complete list, visit wellinthedesert.org/take-action. Items can be dropped off from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Cooling Center, 441 S. Calle Encilia in Palm Springs.
Help feed a Marine
While American Friends of Our Armed Forces is not able to offer their traditional Adopt-a-Marine for Thanksgiving program due to COVID-19 restrictions, the nonprofit is planning a barbecue for 1,000 Marines at the base in Twentynine Palms on the Friday after Thanksgiving. To make a donation, call (760) 772-2574 or visit afafusa.com.
Spread cheer to a homebound senior
Write a holiday letter or make a seasonal card for a homebound senior and mail it to or drop it off at The Joslyn Center at 73750 Catalina Way, Palm Desert. Joslyn’s Meals on Wheels volunteers will deliver your special note when they drop off meals. Who knows? In addition to making someone’s day, you might just make a new friend. For senders who are interested in establishing an ongoing correspondence, please include your mailing address inside the card or letter.
Or volunteer for The Joslyn Center’s Friendly Caller Program by volunteering to call local seniors once or twice a week to check in, say hello and engage in a friendly conversation. For more information, contact Judy Sterling, volunteer coordinator, at (760) 340-3220.
Enjoy shopping? Consider buying a gift for a Joslyn Center client. Visit joslyncenter.org and select a recipient and one of the items on their wish list — new items only, please — then call Judy Sterling at (760) 340-3220 to let her who you are buying for. Wrapped gifts can be dropped off at the center Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. All gifts must be received by Wednesday, Dec. 9 for delivery the following week.
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at [email protected].