Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor at Thanksgiving


It’s the Thanksgiving edition of our “Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor” series, with five suggestions of how you can be be a good neighbor in honor of one of America’s most treasured holidays. What better way to show how thankful you are by paying it forward to someone else?

1. Donate a Turkey – Today!: The latest news is that there is a serious turkey shortage at food banks and organizations around the Bay Area that provide the traditional bird to families in need. On Tuesday, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties announced it was nearly 6,000 turkeys short of its goal of 12,000 donations. Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose said it needed nearly 4,000 more turkeys. To donate, buy frozen and deliver (still frozen) to the agency of your choice. See the bottom of this post for a list of groups asking for donations. And don’t forget these agencies also need non-perishable fixings to go with the turkey, so consider an additional donation of some canned goods.

2. Invite an “Orphan” to Dinner: Set an extra place at the table for someone you know is going to be alone this Thanksgiving. Make them feel welcome and part of the celebration.

3. Mend a Relationship: Don’t go through another holiday harboring hard feelings toward a family member, close friend or neighbor. Offer a sincere apology, if necessary, and work toward forgiving past transgressions. Don’t try to control the outcome of your interactions; just focus on the good, and let go of any expectations.

4. Turkey Trot: Join 25,000 of your Bay Area neighbors Thanksgiving morning in downtown San Jose for the giant Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. This year’s event benefits the Children’s Health Benefit of Santa Clara County, the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, and Second Harvest Food Bank. There are a number of races/walks for all ages of every ability and skill level. There is no onsite registration, and registration is cut off at 25,000, so sign up as soon as possible.

5. Organize a Neighborhood Holiday Drive: Instead of lining up at all those stores for Black Friday, put the day off from work and school to good use by organizing a neighborhood food, toy, clothing, or blanket drive. A long list of agencies are collecting food and other items to help the thousands of homeless and low-income people and families in the San Francisco Bay Area during the holidays. Pick one, make a flyer detailing what you’re collecting, and then either drop off the flyers on doorsteps, or actually knock on some doors and share face-to-face with your neighbors. Set a deadline when neighbors can either drop off items at your place, or set out in front of their residences for pickup. Invite a couple of other neighbors to help you in the project. When you’ve delivered all the donations to the charity, make sure to follow up with another flyer or email to neighbors sharing donation totals and thanking them for their participation.

A note about volunteering at Thanksgiving time: In researching this post it became very evident that volunteer shifts leading up to, and during, Thanksgiving at local agencies fill up quickly. Some of the agencies below may still need volunteers; check their websites or call for more info. Use that lesson to sign up now for December holiday volunteer opportunities, and/or put a reminder on your 2013 calendar (I know of a good datebook! 😉 ) in October to sign up for next Thanksgiving.

Agencies in Need of Turkey Donations 

Note: many of these charities also need things like hams, and nonperishable canned and packaged foods. Consult websites for more information. If you know of more agencies in need of turkeys and other holiday food donations, please tell us in the comments.

Alameda Food Bank

San Francisco/Marin Food Bank

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

CityTeam International – San Jose

EHC LifeBuilders – San Jose

Sacred Heart Community Services – San Jose

Martha’s Kitchen – San Jose

Santa Maria Urban Ministry – San Jose

Ecumenical Hunger Program – East Palo Alto

Louis P. Guaraldi Food Basket Program – South San Francisco; contact Al Banfield at

League of Volunteers – Newark



  1. We often get offers for free turkeys at our supermarkets (Buy X get a Free Turkey). This year, I’m going to pay attention to those offers and give whatever turkeys I can get to our local foodbank. And… if I don’t get any offers, I’ll still help them get a turkey or two! Thanks for letting us know about the need.