Giving back on Thanksgiving? Why other days can have more impact

Posted at 4:54 PM, Nov 22, 2017

Many are planning to head out to a shelter or mission to serve others this Thanksgiving. And while it's great to give back, one national volunteer organization says there's a way to make a bigger impact.

Most organizations say they wish they had the level of participation they get on Thanksgiving for 360 days out of the year.

"If you've never had to struggle for your first meal ... it's like having somebody that cares about you. Every day is a holiday to me," says volunteer Ann Wagner

There's plenty to do in the kitchen every day when the staff prepares breakfast, lunch and dinner. Still, the majority of volunteers want to serve on major holidays like Thanksgiving.

Stacy Parker with the Denver Rescue Mission says volunteer slots often fill up a month in advance.

"We hate to say turn (volunteers) away," Parker answered.

Instead, they ask people to volunteer other times of the year.

"We definitely see a drop off in the new year," Parker says. "So come January and February we are absolutely still in need of volunteers."

After a decade volunteering Ann Clemenson has seen this first hand.

"It gets kind of tough," Clemenson says. "And so people kind of scrambling and it may not go as well as when they have a lot of volunteers."

That's why she strives to work where she's needed most.

"I've done the early-morning shifts," Clemenson says. "And you know you can look at the schedule and see when they need like 15 volunteers as opposed to there's two volunteers left."

So this year, consider a new tradition of giving. One with impact all year round.