For many people, Thanksgiving is more than a time to join with family and friends, sharing a feast and counting their blessings. It’s also a time to reach out to others in the community who are less fortunate.

Those wanting to lend a helping hand this week have no shortage of Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities and ways to donate time and money to help the needy.

Here’s a rundown of possibilities:

Thursday, Nov. 22

From 9 to 11 a.m., Direct Relief International will be organizing volunteers to assemble 1,000 personal care packages filled with basic hygiene items to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The packs will be sent to Direct Relief clinic partners on the East Coast who have requested basic supplies for their patients — many of whom are still displaced or without power and heat. Actor Billy Baldwin and his family also will be at the event, which will be held at the Direct Relief International warehouse, 27 S. La Patera Lane in Goleta.

Direct Relief is also looking for volunteers for a dental kit packing day on Nov. 27 and a holiday care packing event Dec. 5-6.

For more information or to sign up, call 805.964.4767 or email Martha Angeles at

. . .

From 1 to 5 p.m., the Santa Barbara Organic Soup Kitchen will be serving a free community dinner at the Veterans Memorial Center at 112 W. Cabrillo Blvd.

In 2011, the group fed and cared for more than 1,000 guests with more than 200 volunteers. This year, the group is adding an additional 300 meals for homebound seniors through the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara.  

Volunteers can click here to sign up.

Sunday, Nov 25

The Unity Shoppe is asking the public to donate frozen chickens for its annual holiday drive to help feed families.

The Unity Shoppe’s drop-off location has been hindered by construction, so frozen chickens or donations to purchase chickens should be brought to Montecito’s Upper Village on Sunday morning before 10 a.m.

That’s when a classic fire truck will have its rear compartment filled with ice and will caravan with Santa Barbara Cars & Coffee down Hot Springs Road, along Cabrillo Boulevard and up State Street to deliver the chickens and enjoy breakfast and a tour of the Unity Shoppe.

For more information, email


Until Dec. 31, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is asking the public to contribute food at various Foodbank collection barrels throughout the county, including at all local grocery stores listed by clicking here.

Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at both Foodbank warehouses Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Items also can be donated through the Foodbank’s virtual food drive website by clicking here

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.