As we get ready to sit down with friends and family to feast and give thanks, let’s not forget there are many families right here in the Triad who are not as fortunate. Recently a reader named Kristen reached out to ask if we knew of any organizations that provide Thanksgiving dinners to families of need over the holiday weekend. While we’re familiar with Second Harvest Food Bank, we didn’t know any groups off-hand that “adopt” families, other than local churches.

I did a little research and found some great leads, groups, ideas and events – but I’m sure many of you might know where Kristen and other readers can go to “adopt” a family – as well as other ways to give. Please offer your comments below! Here’s what I found out…

Finding an organization that “adopts” a family isn’t easy to come by. Second Harvest Foodbank of Northwest North Carolina (based in Winston-Salem) is our area’s largest resource for helping the hungry in 18 counties (from Boone to Burlington). It’s a major distributor of donated food and groceries to nearly 400 nonprofit partner agencies that provide 680 programs including everything from emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, to halfway houses, domestic violence shelters, low-income daycare centers, you name it.

For more information on how you can donate or volunteer with Second Harvest Foodbank, click here.

When it comes to “adopting” a local family in need, your best bet is to inquire with local churches, schools or shelters to see if they have programs in place. I know my church adopts a family (or several families) and organizes drives, and I’m sure others do as well.

And then I came across Operation Homefront North Carolina. This organization runs the Adopt-A-Family program to allow donors from across the state “reach out and give back” to young military families in need, particularly with food and presents during the holidays. As military families sign up for donations, the organization matches them with donors. To sign up to be a donor, click here.

Other local agencies also organize food drives and may also coordinate “family adoptions.” You might want to contact your local Salvation Army, Rescue Mission, Red Cross, or Urban Ministry office. And if you live in Burlington, there is a great Christian food ministry called Loaves & Fishes that provides groceries to hungry families in Alamance County and the five surrounding counties. Before I moved to the Triad, I was an active volunteer and board member for Loaves & Fishes in Charlotte and can attest it’s a great organization!

And you don’t have to necessarily adopt a family to help those in need. Any little time or donation you can offer will go a long way. Here are some creative ideas and local events that make donating easy:

– Shop at Rebecca & Co. and Perch today (Saturday, November 20) and get 25% off one regular price item if you bring in a minimum of three canned goods. Rebecca & Co. is located at 1200 Reynolda Road in W-S, and Perch is located at 3326 West Friendly Ave in GSO.

– Visit World Villages in Winston-Salem on Sunday, November 28 from 1-5 pm. Enjoy refreshments, entertainment and super deals on gifts from around the world. Fifteen percent of all sales will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.

-Reidsville Family YMCA in GSO is hosting its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, and will provide a Thanksgiving meal for several families in the GSO community. Bring non-perishable food items to the YMCA now through Sunday, November 21.

– Start your holiday shopping at Border’s at Thruway Shopping Center in W-S on Saturday, December 4 and Sunday, December 5. A portion of your purchases will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.

– Send holiday cards through Second Harvest Food Bank. Your recipients will receive a personalized card saying a gift has been made to Second Harvest Food Bank by you in their honor. For more information, click here.

– Sign up to run or walk the Turkey Strut 5k Race on Thanksgiving. Race begins at R.J. Reynolds High School in W-S at 9 am. Contact Second Harvest Food Bank for more information.

– Look for food bins at any Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods and Walmart during the holiday season. These stores have teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank to help increase food donations and distribution.

– Support your favorite WXII12 News Anchor and Second Harvest Food Bank by dropping off a donation of non-perishable food at a live shot location. Who knows – you may end up on the news! Click here for dates and locations.

How else can we help others? Do you know of other organizations or events?