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Thanksgiving is really a holiday about gathering. So we’ve gathered a list of places that are offering free Thanksgiving meals and events for everyone. If you already have Thanksgiving plans, no worries this list is also a great guide to finding volunteering opportunities happening this year.
Givens Thanksgiving Community Dinner
November 21 | from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. | Givens Recreation Center, 3811 East 12th Street
Givens Recreation Center invites you all to enjoy a hot delicious meal, dessert, and beverage! There is limited seating available, but all you have to do is show up to get a free meal. When you arrive, you will be given a ticket that can be exchanged at the event for food and drinks.
A.B. Cantu Pan-American Recreation Center Thanksgiving Dinner
November 23 | from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. | A.B. Cantu Pan-American Recreation Center, 2100 East 3rd Street
Join the annual A.B. Cantu Pan-Am Recreation Center Thanksgiving Dinner for music, socializing with your neighbors, and a FREE meal. Doors open at 10 a.m., with dinner served at 11 a.m. For special assistance utilizing CoA facilities, please call (512)974-3914.
Free Feed the Homeless and Community Dinner
November 23 | from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | 2215 East 8th Street
Join on Saturday, November 23 for a FREE Community Dinner. This is for everyone to enjoy good food and fellowship. We will be giving away clothes, supplies and toiletries to those in need.
Interfaith Thanksgiving Service and Celebration
November 24 | service from 3 to 4:30 p.m., reception from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. | Riverbend Church, 4214 North Capital of Texas Highway
Please join Interfaith Action of Central Texas to celebrate the 35th Annual Interfaith Day of Thanks Service & Celebration! This year’s event will be hosted by the Austin Hindu Community. People of all faith traditions will gather together to celebrate what it is they are thankful for in a stunningly beautiful and moving display of interfaith unity. Bring your favorite dish, ready to serve and labeled for those with dietary restrictions (vegetarian dishes only, please!). Free, family-friendly,
and all are welcome!
November 25 | from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. | Gus Garcia Recreation Center, 1201 East Rundberg Lane
Join in on the food and fun as Gus Garcia Rec Center hosts their annual Turkey Bingo! Families can enjoy free hot dogs and drinks (while supplies last), as well as arts and crafts for the little ones. You’ll have the chance to play bingo to win a Thanksgiving dinner basket. Bingo cards cost $3 and one basket can be won per family. For special assistance utilizing CoA facilities, please call (512)974-3914.
H-E-B Feast of Sharing
November 26 | from 4 to 8 p.m. | Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road
H-E-B provides 14,000 meals to hungry Austinites with the help of thousands of volunteers who plate and serve food, do crafts with children in attendance, and many other tasks.
Vegetarian Thanksgiving and Potluck
November 28 | from 6 to 7 p.m. | Yoga Meditation Group, 13740 Research Boulevard, Building T, Unit 3
Join for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day Vegetarian Feast (vegan and gluten-free friendly)! Bring a dish if you’d like (make sure it’s vegetarian: no meat, fish, eggs, gelatin, lard; milk products are fine), but there will be plenty of food already, and your presence is what we value the most! Families with children are welcome! (Please also bring your own eating dishes and utensils if you can, just to save on paper and plastic; but it’s no problem if you can’t.) Dinner will be followed by a Deep Peace Meditation class – please stay and join us! RSVP here.
More Volunteer Ops and Ways to Give Back:
November 23 | from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. | El Buen Samaritano, 7000 Woodhue Drive
El Buen provides a Thanksgiving meal for thousands of families but they do things a little differently. They provide the groceries to the family so they can prepare it themselves. El Buen believes by giving people their own groceries they can participate and feel more a part of the traditional holiday.
Central Texas Food Bank
November 23 | Various Times | Multiple Locations
Families come together over the holiday, which means their food needs increase. Food pantries and service agencies play a vital role is providing these families the food they need to fill the gaps, and Central Texas Food Bank serves 300 of them throughout 21-counties.
Prior to Thanksgiving, you can volunteer to sort food donations at the Food Bank to prepare for distribution through partner agencies across Central Texas.
November 23 | from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex, 1156 Hargrave Street
Generation Serve will host its third-annual Family Volunteer Day at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex. The event will be a free, city-wide event for families to come learn more about our community’s needs. They will be helping with multiple different charities around Austin during the holiday. Check out their full calendar on their website.
Austin Empty Bowl Project
November 24 | from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Central Texas Food Bank, 6500 Metropolis Drive
The Austin Empty Bowl Project is the perfect combination of art, food and community. It benefits the children’s hunger programs at Central Texas Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and more. Attendees purchase a handcrafted bowl for $20, local restaurants fill it with soup and you eat and enjoy the music.
In addition to traditional volunteers, potters are invited to create and donate a bowl, but they must be delivered the Friday before the event Nov. 22, or, if you’re running behind, you can bring them directly to the food bank by 4 pm the day before the event.
Thundercloud Sub’s Turkey Trot
November 28 | at 8:45 a.m. | The Long Center, 701 West Riverside Drive
With almost 20,000 people participating, the Thundercloud five-mile race is one of the largest Turkey Trots in the country. All proceeds benefit Caritas of Austin, which supports local refugees, low-income and homeless people. This event needs more than 650 volunteers so don’t forget to sign up.
November 28 | from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. | Multiple Locations: Operation Turkey North – P.F. Chang’s located at 10114 Jollyville Road, Operation Turkey South – Güero’s Taco Bar located at 1412 South Congress Avenue, Operation Turkey Downtown – P.F. Chang’s located at 201 San Jacinto Boulevard
One of the most popular volunteering opportunities at any time of the year, Operation Turkey empowers people of all ages to help make sure everyone in Austin get a hot meal on Thanksgiving Day. Volunteer to make, package, and/or deliver a traditional meal to people experiencing homelessness across Central Texas, from Round Rock and Cedar Park to Austin and San Marcos.
Every $5 donation feeds two people, and this year’s goal is to serve 50,000 people in 15 locations across the country. Make your donation online.
There you have it, this year’s free Thanksgiving meals and volunteer events. If we missed something let us know in the comments below. Or simply let us know what you’re most thankful for this year.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating from the Austin.com family!
Featured photo courtesy of Thundercloud Subs.