11/20/2012 09:32 am ET Updated Nov 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Volunteer, Donation Opportunities That Make An Impact

As Black Friday, Cyber Monday and your boisterous aunt all threaten to edge out the true meaning of Thanksgiving, take time to remember what the season is all about -- showing thanks and love for others.

And the best way to just that is to volunteer or donate what and where you can. Whether it’s serving a meal at a local soup kitchen, donating to help troops deployed overseas, or volunteering to help Sandy victims, an act of kindness reveals the true meaning of this year’s holiday season.

Check out ideas below for volunteering and donating this Thanksgiving season:

Help Sandy victims
Tunnels To Towers Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund provides clothes, food and other necessities to residents living in storm-ravaged areas like Staten Island. Donate cleaning supplies, food items or volunteer -- 100 percent of all proceeds will go to those directly affected by the storm.

HuffPost New York did a roundup of grassroots organizations dedicated to local recovery efforts. From providing aid to the hardest-hit to coordinating relief with animal shelters, these initiaitves are dedicated to meeting the direct needs of hard-hit communities. Learn more here.

Support our troops
Any Soldier connects you with deployed soldiers who would like to receive care packages from well-wishers at home. The organization provides a recommended list of items to send to the troops along with mailing instructions.

Homes for Heroes helps our nation’s servicemen become homeowners. The organization offers military personnel, firefighters, law enforcement officers and others community “heroes” discounts on real estate agent commissions, home inspections, and lender and closing fees.

Sponsor a family in need
Family To Family will connect you to a family that is struggling to put food on the table. This relationship will last beyond the holiday season. Once a month you will be asked to shop and send a bag of groceries or make a donation to allow the organization to do so on your behalf.

Dress For Success gives women in need suits so they can put their best foot forward in job interviews and in the workplace. Donate professional attire, accessories or make a monetary contribution to help women gain economic independence.

Help the homeless
National Coalition for the Homeless lists ways you can help the homeless in your local communities. Make a meal at a homeless shelter, become an advocate for housing rights or make a donation to affiliated organizations.

Invisible People highlights individual stories of America’s homeless. Share these weekly video interviews on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about one of the most marginalized and ignored segments of our society.

Care for animals
ASPCA provides a host of services that brings animals out of cruelty and into loving homes. Adopt a pet, volunteer at your local animal shelter or work with animal rights initiatives.

Best Friends Animal Society founded the no-kill movement to stop pets from being euthanized in animal shelters nationwide. Become a “Guardian Angel” for a sick pet or choose to adopt an animal in need of a home.

Share the knowledge
Little Free Library, as its name suggests, is an initiative where you can build unique boxes that act as book exchanges in your community. Create one of your own, volunteer or donate to the cause. lets you helps students in need by funding school classroom projects. Pick a project that inspires you, make a donation and when the project has reached its fundraising goal, materials get shipped to the school.



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