More than 288,000 Arizonans Are Unemployed. Here’s How to Help Them Have a Good Thanksgiving.

By Jessica Swarner

November 24, 2020

Not planning to cook a turkey this year? Buy one for a family in need.

Thanksgiving will likely look different for most Arizonans this year. 

COVID-19 safety guidelines urge people to stay home and have smaller celebrations, leaving many Arizona families with more money and time leftover than normal during the holiday. 

With over 288,000 Arizonans still unemployed and communities dealing with financial fallout from the pandemic in other ways, there are plenty of people who could use some extra resources this holiday season. 

Here’s how to practice gratitude and share a unique Thanksgiving bounty with others this year: 

Make a Food Donation

With fewer guests at the table this year, some people are choosing to skip the turkey  or opting to forego a larger bird in favor of a smaller one. However, St. Mary’s Food Bank is still looking for turkey donations to give to families who would like one. As of Nov. 19, the nonprofit said it still needed 6,500 turkeys, which can be dropped off at 19 local Safeway and Albertsons’ locations. 

Food banks are also in need of other provisions, whether traditional holiday foods or not. Find your closest food bank and information about how to donate here. Some grocery stores also make it easy to donate to food banks either by having drop-off boxes up front or by offering pre-packaged donation bundles for purchase at check-out. 

You can also step up to send meals to essential workers who can’t be home on the holiday. Contact a local hospital, fire station, or other facilities  and ask if they accept meals.Then order the food and have it delivered there. 

And leaving out snacks, drinks, or other gifts for delivery drivers is a good way to make someone’s day during their busiest time of year. 

If you’d like to make a food donation more long-term, you can sponsor a family in need with a monthly grocery box through Family-to-Family.

Contribute Funds to Those in Need

Money saved from not traveling, buying as much food, or decorating as much can be channeled into helping others.  

To help Arizonans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can donate to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund. The money goes to nonprofits that distribute protective equipment, connect students with technology, aid people experiencing homelessness and domestic violence, and other causes. 

You can also search the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits’ directory to find a cause you align with or consider mutual aid networks like and virtual tip jars that help laid-off individuals directly. 

Volunteer Your Time

Want to help but don’t have much to spare? You can always donate your time. 

One idea is to write and send thank-you notes to healthcare workers, first responders, people isolated in nursing homes, and others impacted by the pandemic. 

Because people are more likely to be spending time apart this year, it’s also a good idea to connect—by video call, phone, text, letter, or whatever medium works for you—with anyone living alone or isolated due to high COVID-19 risk. 

While volunteering is traditionally seen as an in-person activity, there are still ways to make an impact digitally.Try editing photos for a nonprofit, providing language skills, or supporting a crisis text line. 

If you feel comfortable volunteering in person, check with local soup kitchens or Meals on Wheels to see if you can help distribute food. While you may not be able to do so right on Thanksgiving, you can schedule a time to donate blood

And remember—choosing to have a safe Thanksgiving is good work in itself. By social distancing, wearing masks, and following other US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, you are not only protecting yourself from the virus but your community members and loved ones, too.  


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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