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Thanksgiving Ideas, Events and How Your Business Can Give Back to the Community in NYC

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Thanksgiving is an opportunity to show employees how much you appreciate them. It is also an occasion to encourage teams to give back to the community. Rather than organize an office feast with turkey and all the trimmings, giving back is a great way to commemorate the holiday. Employers can do this by encouraging employees and making it easier to volunteer. Giving back as a group helps build a community spirit in the office while promoting charitable causes.

What Can Your Business Do to Help the Less Fortunate at Thanksgiving?

There are many people in New York City that will celebrate Thanksgiving with very little. Businesses can show their appreciation for all their good fortunes by serving a meal at a local charity or church or helping to deliver meals. The Real Life Church at Hunts Point in the Bronx and Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn are just two community churches that serve meals during Thanksgiving. Bringing together colleagues to help with food preparation, serving or clean-up is a fulfilling opportunity to build your team while giving back.

There are dozens of organizations that are willing to partner with businesses to provide nutritional meals to less fortunate New Yorkers. City Harvest and the New York Food Bank welcomes volunteers as well as donations of canned foods and non-perishable items. Both organizations see volunteer positions fill up quickly during the holiday season, but there are smaller pantries and food banks that also need help. In addition to serving dinner to some 350 people on any given day, the Yorkville Common Pantry will also be offering a home-cooked meal on November 23. Located at 8 East 109th Street between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, the pantry welcomes volunteers on weekdays during the lead up to Thanksgiving. Each day, God’s Love We Deliver delivers three-course meals to 1,500 New Yorkers that find themselves homebound. During Thanksgiving, the charity welcomes drivers to deliver specially decorated gift baskets along with their meals. New York Cares also distributes food to community centers and senior centers throughout the city.

Free, Fun Thanksgiving Events in New York City

From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, late November host some of New York’s most iconic events. Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square is a holiday celebration that brings together more than 20,000 people. Free entertainment and live music are held alongside food tastings from over 30 area restaurants and eateries. First organized in 2000, the event includes the Upper West Side’s only tree lighting ceremony. Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square offers businesses a fun opportunity to bring together coworkers and their families while giving back to the community. New York Cares is one of the organizations that use the event as an opportunity to help the less fortunate, including with a coat drive. The charity also welcomes volunteers to help during Winter’s Eve.

For activities that put less of an emphasis on the holiday, there are other ways to enjoy time away from the office around Thanksgiving. Team building events help create more productive teams that work well together while having fun during the holiday season. The New York Botanical Garden’s Thain Family Forest organizes guided tours to see the fall foliage and season birds. There are also free canoe trips provided by the Bronx River Alliance and recreational tree climbing classes. Haven’s Kitchen, La Scuola di Eataly, the Institute of Culinary Education and many others provide cooking classes for businesses and the public. Working together to create the perfect apple pie, cranberry sauce or other Thanksgiving-related dish is a fun way to learn new ways of communicating and cooperating that can be used back in the office.

Ways to Celebrate with Your Co-workers at Thanksgiving

A team lunch or dinner is another entertaining way to celebrate the holiday. New York’s restaurants provide plenty of opportunities for a delicious Thanksgiving meal. For a fine dining experience, Eleven Madison Park offers a four-course menu at its decorated Flatiron dining room. The Flatiron also houses Le Coq Rico, a French-inspired restaurant specializing in roasted birds including duck and turkey. It is also home to Craft, Tom Colicchio’s restaurant. The menu includes roasted free-range turkey, roasted autumn vegetables, pumpkin pie.

The Union Square Café on 19th Street serves bistro plates from chef Carmen Quagliata, from chestnut soup and pumpkin bread pudding to roast turkey and herb-rubbed pork. Rôtisserie Gerogette’s three-course menu includes a roasted turkey entrée with sausage, sage and brioche stuffing, cranberry-orange compote, and pommes puree with turkey jus. You can also enjoy pumpkin cheesecake with cranberries and roast beef with roof vegetables for your Thanksgiving meal at The Breslin, a gastropub from April Bloomfield. Bubby’s in Tribeca and the Meatpacking District offers homemade pies and a family-style menu of roasted turkey, glazed ham, candied sweet potatoes and other holiday favorites.

Designing an event that contributes to team building and framing it as an occasion as an opportunity to express appreciation will ensure you get the most of out the day. In addition to organizing an event, you can also create a ‘thank you’ wall for people in the office to recognize their colleagues with written notes. You can also organize a fundraising drive to support a local charity. Whatever you decide to do for Thanksgiving, you should ensure that the activity is as inclusive as possible.


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