’Tis the Season for Service

Four ways to give back during this holiday season.

By Katie Byland

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and hustle and bustle of the holidays. In the midst of arranging holiday plans and buying gifts for loved ones, we often shift our focus to giving back to the community. Austin offers many ways to give back, from running a 5-mile run, to donating winter clothing for those in need. Find a place where you and your family can serve our community while creating a new holiday tradition. 


ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot 

More than 20,000 participants from throughout the nation will gather Thanksgiving morning to make room for their Thanksgiving feast at the 25th annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot. The largest 5-mile run in Texas will begin at The Long Center for the Performing Arts and benefit Caritas of Austin, a nonprofit organization that connects people experiencing poverty with resources to help them get back on their feet. Caritas’ clients include 20,000 homeless, working, poor and documented refugees in Travis County. This year’s event, with the help of more than 700 volunteers, will include a 5-mile run, 1-mile walk, a Kids K and plenty of fun for the whole family. Pre-event packet pickup will be at First Texas Honda and Luke’s Locker. The times will be announced closer to the day of the event. The day will begin at 7:30 a.m. for registration and packet pickup, followed by the first race at 8:45 a.m. Trophy pickup will conclude the day at 10:45 a.m. For more information, visit thundercloud.com/turkey-trot. 


Austin Empty Bowl Project 

This year, at the 19th annual Austin Empty Bowl Project, you can relax and enjoy gourmet soup and bread from your choice of 30 restaurants and bakeries, and listen to a variety of musicians, all while benefiting the Kids Cafe program. The Kids Cafe program provides a safe place for thousands of children to enjoy nutritious meals, as well as get access to educational, recreational and social activities. At this year’s Austin Empty Bowl Project, visitors can purchase a handmade ceramic bowl for $20 and fill it with soup, then take it home at the end of the evening as a reminder that there are others less fortunate. There will also be a silent auction featuring celebrity bowls, and a drawing for a Nancy Elder quilt. The event will take place Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre. The project also seeks artists to donate handcrafted pottery bowls to be purchased throughout the night. For more information, visit austinemptybowl.org. 


Austin Pets Alive! Home for the Holidays 

We can’t forget about our furry friends this holiday season. Austin Pets Alive! is the leading no-kill organization dedicated to ending the euthanasia of Austin’s adoptable dogs and cats. Since 2008, the program has saved more than 25,000 dogs and cats. Home for the Holidays is a temporary foster-care program for dogs who spent last year’s holiday season at the shelter awaiting their forever home. The program has a variety of cuddly companions listed on its website that are looking for their holiday homes. Some foster-family responsibilities include providing a safe, clean, caring environment, providing food and water, exercise and socialization as appropriate. For more information or to become a holiday foster family, visit austinpetsalive.org/get-involved/home-for-the-holidays. 


Front Steps  

Every day, the nonprofit manager of the Austin Resource Center, Front Steps, serves homeless men and women, with a mission to provide them with pathway homes through shelter, affordable housing and community education. Front Steps offers customizable volunteer opportunities for the holiday season so groups can create their own activity that is tailored to their schedule. Activities can vary, from hosting a relaxing afternoon of board games with holiday refreshments in one of the conference rooms for their clients at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, to donating new blankets, hats and socks for those in need. Groups of 10 to 15 are ideal and all volunteers must be 18 or older. For more information, call 512.305.4153. 


For more volunteer opportunities throughout the holiday season, visit austinwomanmagazine.com.


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