With the holiday season rolling in, it’s the perfect time to get involved with the community around you and give back. When looking for ways to give back beyond your inner circle, there is no shortage of opportunities near your Gowanus apartment in Brooklyn and surrounding neighborhoods. From donating clothes to empowering the city’s youth to volunteering at the local soup kitchen, you’ll have no trouble finding a way that speaks to you this fall and beyond.
With community hunger a prevalent problem in New York, St. John’s Bread & Life works tirelessly to serve nearly 3,000 meals in Brooklyn and Queens every day. In addition to its various meal programs, Bread & Life also offers social services and spiritual care for those in need. The organization is built on the dedication of donation supporters, family sponsors, in-kind donors, and volunteers in their soup kitchen, food pantry, resource center, and mobile soup kitchen. Want a friend or two to join? Bread & Life loves to see group volunteering and will find a place for you and your team to work together in giving back.
If you love to get active in your volunteer work, give Cranksgiving a try this holiday season. Held annually in New York City since 1999, Cranksgiving is a bike-ride food drive that throws a little scavenger hunt into the mix. The volunteer excitement has grown from the grassroots level up to 100 locations across the country. After registering the afternoon of your New York ride, all you need is a bike and lock, a bag, and about $20 to buy food. Organizers find out what local charities need and create a route of grocery stores that participating riders will go to in order to purchase specific list items. In the effort of friendly competition, the rider that collects the most donation items from the route before crossing the finish line wins the event. After all is said and done, participants and volunteers help bring the donations to the local charity in need.
Want to find a way to get involved, get active, and be part of a year-round initiative for the homeless right near your Gowanus apartment? Lace up your running shoes and go for a run with Back on My Feet. The program recruits members from homeless shelters and residential facilities with a commitment to run three mornings during the week. After reaching 90 percent attendance in 30 days, members are allowed to engage in the program’s Next Steps phase, which offers education, employment, and housing opportunities. Volunteers help by leading team runs, events, and raising awareness of the vision and mission of Back on My Feet.
With these opportunities and so many more, let this Thanksgiving season guide you to the aspects of your community that you want to help build, better, and engage.