The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

Share Your Food, Time with Waco

Places to volunteer, pick up meals for Thanksgiving

9 months ago

By Avery Ballmann

The holidays are quickly approaching with Thanksgiving next on the docket. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of this season hosting every aunt, uncle and cousin, making mile-long grocery lists and cooking a large meal only to have a mountain of dishes to tackle after the turkey. But instead of hosting a big get-together for a meal at your table, what if you hosted a time for your family to volunteer at a local nonprofit or food pantry? Or throw in a couple of extra cans for a food drive on your grocery list. Or forego cooking a meal altogether and support our local restaurants by catering your Thanksgiving meal through them. There are so many ways to give back to our community and we have compiled a list of ways you can accomplish that this Thanksgiving.

Donate Your Time: Volunteer Opportunities

There are a multitude of volunteer opportunities around Waco on Thanksgiving Day and prior. Caritas’ Food for Families, Mission Waco | Mission World and The Shepherd’s Heart are offering a variety of ways for people to help their cause, whether it’s by volunteering, donating food or money or just spreading the word.

Food for Families is hosted by Caritas of Waco every year and supports our local food pantries such as Carver Park Baptist Church, Church of the Open Door, Family of Faith Worship Center, Hands of Mercy – First Spanish Assembly, The Salvation Army, The Shepherd’s Heart of Waco, Lorena and Robinson, etc. Last year Food for Families collected 505,000 pounds of food; this year their goal is 600,000 pounds.  This year’s food drive is set for November 17th with an extensive list of drop-off locations. Items that are in high need are canned meats, tuna, chili, stew, chicken, canned vegetables, sugar, corn meal, pasta, pasta sauce, cereals, flour, baby food, peanut butter, dry beans, flour and rice. This food drive is one day only and is a perfect opportunity to help before Thanksgiving Day.

Mission Waco | Mission World is hosting their annual Thanksgiving lunch on November 24 starting at 11 a.m. at the Meyer Center, 1226 Washington Ave. They will have a chapel service, serve a warm lunch and host Bingo. Mission Waco needs volunteers on Wednesday the 23rd to help prepare turkeys. If you are interested in helping email Bailie Rouse at If you’re not available on the 23rd, there is another donation option available. Bingo winners at the event will have the chance to win a free coat. Because of this, Mission Waco is seeking adult coat donations sizes M—XL no later than November 18th. If you want to donate a coat, email Bailie Rouse to coordinate a coat drop-off time.

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For a more flexible volunteer opportunity consider donating your time, money and food to The Shepherd’s Heart, a local food pantry. The Shepherd’s Heart takes their mobile food pantry to 18 different locations across Waco throughout the month. Because there are so many locations for the mobile food pantry, The Shepherd’s Heart needs volunteers Monday through Friday to prepare food for distribution. If you’re interested in this volunteer opportunity, contact them via phone at 254-213-7833. To see and share the distribution list for November visit their website.

Support Local: Cater Thanksgiving Feast

Making an entire 10-course meal for Thanksgiving can feel like climbing Mt. Everest without an oxygen mask — extremely exhausting. Luckily, seven local businesses are doing the hard work for you and are preparing Thanksgiving meals and a la carte sides.

  • Revival Eastside Eatery: Revival Eastside Eatery is offering main and side dishes with sauces, desserts and other items. All side dishes feed 10 to 12 people and recipes can accommodate food allergies. To view the full menu click here and to cater through Revival, email
  • Brown House Cafe: Brown House Cafe is serving up turkey breast, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls with options to feed a family of four or 10. They are also offering desserts and pies. To cater you must call 254-235-1251 by 1 p.m. on Wednesday, November 15th. Pick up will be Wednesday the 22nd between 12—6 p.m. To view the Thanksgiving menu, visit their Facebook
  • The Olive Branch: Cornbread dressing, smoked brisket, deviled eggs and buttermilk chess pie are just a few of the many dishes The Olive Branch is catering for Thanksgiving dinner. Each item can be purchased separately and must be ordered by November 17th. To view the full menu click here. Pick up will be November 22nd any time before 3 p.m. To order through The Olive Branch, email
  • The Secret Chef: No need to tell your family you didn’t cook, keep it a secret with the Secret Chef! Secret Chef is offering an a la carte menu for their Thanksgiving menu. Orders must be placed by Monday, November 20 and will be picked up the following Wednesday. To place your order email or call 254-772-2433.
  • Helberg Barbecue: Brisket, spareribs, cornbread and sausage stuffing — not your typical Thanksgiving courses. Helberg’s is serving up a special menu a la carte style. Orders can be picked up November 22. To view their Thanksgiving menu, click here
  • Cafe Homestead: This beloved Waco restaurant has recovered from their fire damages and is ready to serve you a homemade holiday meal! Their turkey, rolls, gravy and cranberry sauce feed a group of 12 for $165 with sides and desserts for an additional fee. To view their menu and place an order, visit their website.
  • George’s: George’s is serving their feasts family style with a small family starting at $90 and a large family at $175. This includes turkey or ham, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes or sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce and rolls. There is also an additional a la carte menu that can be viewed here. Orders must be made by 5 p.m. on November 20 and will be picked up November 22.

Don’t turkey out!

There are so many ways to give back to the community this holiday season. Whether you donate cans to a local food drive or support local businesses by purchasing some sides for your Thanksgiving meal you’re making a difference in Waco. Spread the word about these opportunities and consider donating your time or resources back to our city during this season of thanks.