Volunteering as a Family in Bergen County, NJ

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Come Thanksgiving, there are plenty of things for your kids to look forward to: time off from school, football on TV, all-you-can-eat pie after dinner, and, did we mention no school? This year, add something else even more meaningful to the list -- helping others. Don't know where to begin? Here are 5 local ways your family can volunteer this Thanksgiving.

Family Promise of Bergen helps temporarily homeless families get back on their feet through housing and other solutions.  Families can band together and run one of the “Walk-In Dinners” by making and serving food for 150 needy guests, help out by donating items on the center's wish list or teens ages 14 and up can join the organization’s Youth Council which provides young people ample opportunities to donate their time. (Family Promise of Bergen, 201-833-8009 for the walk- in dinners or contact 201 833-8009 for the Youth Council)

The folks over at Three Sisters Horse Farm know a thing or two about how horse therapy can impact kids with special needs.  They’ve been experts in it since 2000 when Pony Power Therapies founder Dana Spett saw the benefits in her own daughter.  If you’re at least 14 years old, willing to commit to 20 hours of service and attend a mandatory training session, you can volunteer as a horse walker and help out with light grooming and barn-keeping.  (Pony Power Therapies, 1170 Ramapo Valley Rd, Mahwah, 201-934-1001)

Get even the youngest kids involved with Jersey Cares' Frosty’s Friends initiative by answering letters and granting wishes to kids in need or grab the kids and go hand-me-down shopping in the basement for old coats to donate to their 20th annual Coat Drive from November 1-December 15 (click here to find a volunteer opportunity that works for you)

Shelter Our Sisters supports victims of domestic violence by running a large scale annual Holiday Gift Wrapping operation in three different Bergen locations.  Grab the whole family and commit for a minimum of two hours to be part of the solution.  (sign up here to volunteer)

The Center for Food Action’s goal is to get food to where it's needed most. From participating in a Weekend Snack Pack Program, where healthy snacks are packed for needy school aged children, to hosting a food drive or donating Thanksgiving items or meals, there are tons of ways to get involved and help out. (Center for Food Action, various locations, contact Kathy Mikula 201.569.1804 x29 for volunteer opportunities)

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