Are you looking for a way to give back to your community and demonstrate positive values to your kids this holiday season? I’m always seeking meaningful ways to spend time together as a family while teaching important values and making a positive difference in our community.

Volunteering can give a great sense of purpose and fulfillment. What better way to show kids what that feeling is all about than participating as a family. When we volunteer, we meet new people, help our neighbors, broaden our family’s horizon, and teach children the value of empathy. Volunteering with your family is a great way to bond with your children, and you get to accomplish something important together, while boosting self-esteem and confidence.

Here are several places in Thurston County where you and your family can be of service this holiday season. Kids under 14 will require an adult to be present, but that’s the idea, right? Volunteer time is family time.

Thurston County Food Bank
Heather Sundean is pictured greeting volunteers before they begin packing boxes with ingredients for Thanksgiving meals. Photo courtesy: Thurston County Food Bank

Thurston County Food Bank

Individuals, families with children, and groups of all sizes have numerous opportunities to support the Thurston County Food Bank programs during the week and on the weekends. The food bank’s biggest events occur in November and December with additional projects throughout the year.

The best way to get started volunteering at the TCFB is by signing up for the volunteer orientation. New volunteer orientation dates and times throughout the holiday season include:

  • November 6 and 20, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
  • December 4 and 18, 3:00-4:00 p.m.

Call 360-352-8597 ext. 107 or email

Thurston Gleaning

Roll up your sleeves and put on your boots to get ready for some harvesting. Thurston Gleaning is a program of the Thurston County Food Bank that collects excess crops from farmers’ fields that would otherwise go to waste.  The fresh, nutritious produce that you and your family glean will be distributed to neighbors in need.

Learn more about gleaning in Thurston County here, or register to volunteer.

Senior Services for South Sound

Senior Services for South Sound provides services to people who are ages 55 and over in Thurston and Mason Counties. They have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and will do their best to connect you with a position that most closely matches your skills and interests.

Meals on Wheels Volunteers
Rotary Club volunteers for Meals on Wheels program. Photo courtesy: Senior Services for South Sound

Volunteer opportunities during the holidays include:

  • Best Rummage Sale on Earth, Saturday, November 10
  • Ugly Sweater Bingo, Friday, December 28

In addition to the above holiday events, Senior Services is seeking volunteers to fill retail positions, Meals on Wheels drivers and an area assessor, as well as program assistants in STARS, and more.

Call 360-407-3967 for more information.

The Community Kitchen

The Community Kitchen serves a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, as well as providing meals to teenagers at Community Youth Services, and adults at Drexel House.

You and your family just need to wash up, put on an apron, and be prepared to chop, prep and serve meals.

To volunteer, contact Peter Epperson, Community Involvement Coordinator. He will connect you with a crew that needs help. You can reach him at 253-642-7514 or by email at

Volunteer Services

Volunteer Services (formerly Volunteer Chore Services) began in 1981 in response to budget cuts in services for the elderly in the state of Washington. They are committed to helping elders and adults with disabilities remain independent in their own homes. Chore services are provided by volunteers to support elders and adults with disabilities who otherwise could not afford to pay for assistance, or do not qualify for other assistance.

There are a variety of opportunities to help through this organization, including transportation, shopping, housework, yard work, home repair, and more.

Friends of Capitol Forest Volunteers
Volunteering together to care for the trails at Capitol Forest. Photo courtesy: Friends of Capitol Forest

To volunteer, complete the online volunteer registration form. The application requires three personal references, completing a Washington State Patrol background check and a disclosure form due to the vulnerable population served.

Friends of Capitol Forest

For those looking to get outside and give back to the trails they so dearly love, this is the time of year that Friends of Capitol Forest could use some help.

Drainage is the number one priority on the trails during the rainy season. They have monthly work parties every first and third Saturday each month at 9:00 a.m. focusing on drainage, trail rerouting, bridge building, maintenance, and trail construction.

Contact Friends of Capitol Forest to get you and your family outside digging and building, or visit their Facebook page.

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