Thanksgiving is the time of year to eat delicious meals, spend quality time with family and friends, and do some good deeds. Last year, 64.5 million people volunteered in the United States. About 10% of total volunteer activity is centered around serving meals, and a large portion of this effort takes place during – you guessed it – Thanksgiving!
Helping to provide a hot meal to someone less fortunate than yourself is a generous and thoughtful thing to do, and for many people, that’s all the motivation that they need. However, if you need a little more convincing before you’re willing to miss the best day of the football season, consider this: volunteering can greatly improve your mental and physical health, and even add years on to your life!
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, a growing body of research from the past two decades has shown the following benefits for people who volunteer:
- Lower mortality rates
- Greater functional ability
- Lower rates of depression later in life
- Declined pain intensity for those suffering from a chronic illness
- Reduced despair and depression for post-coronary artery disease patients
- Better sense of purpose and life-satisfaction
- Increased overall sense of happiness and mental well-being
How can you get started?
If you want to help others and also reap the health benefits that volunteering provides, an easy way to get started is during the holiday season. There are countless opportunities to help with food and toy drives, or serve meals to your community.
Click here to find food banks and soup kitchens in Johnston County that need help serving Thanksgiving meals.
You can donate canned food items to any food bank in the area, or start your own food drive to help the collection efforts. Here are some tips from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina on how to organize a food drive.
Volunteering on a permanent basis
If you help out with some holiday events and decide that volunteering is something you want to do on a permanent basis, there are opportunities in Johnston County for people of all ages and backgrounds. Almost any non-profit organization needs the help of volunteers, so there’s bound to be an opportunity out there that matches your interests and skills. Here are some ideas to start volunteering if you want to help:
Seniors: Local Meals on Wheels programs
The Environment: Keep Johnston County Beautiful
The Homeless: Smithfield Rescue Mission
Patients: Johnston Health
Remember, volunteering benefits you, the people you help, and your entire community, so get out there and do some good!