As droves of people across the country prepare to head home for Thanksgiving and share warm meals with their families, many others are left with nowhere to go for the holidays. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, on a typical night, more than 549,000 Americans are without homes, and more than 42 million Americans are at risk of suffering from hunger.

In an attempt to combat this issue, the National Coalition for the Homeless hosts Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (HHAW) annually the week before Thanksgiving. With events held at more than 700 locations across the country from November 11-19, there are many opportunities this year to support anti-poverty initiatives and help raise awareness about the issues facing homeless populations. On the front range, there are several events being held specifically for HWAW, and beyond those, there are a host of other ways to get involved.

When your stomach starts to rumble, head to one of Mici Handcrafted Italian’s four Denver restaurants. On November 14th, they’re donating 20 percent of all proceeds from dine-in, carryout, and delivery orders to Urban Peak, which supports homeless youth in the Denver area. Just mention ‘Urban Peak’ when placing your order.

For those closer to Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Library District is hosting “Make A Difference” events, in which participants can make fleece scarves to donate to local people in need. The workshops take place November 14th at Library 21C and November 16th at East Library. To register, call 719-389-8968. For other Pikes Peak Library District HHAW events, head to the programs page of their website.

If you’re near Denver, stop by the Colorado Young Leaders’ Turkey Bowl Clothing Drive on November 18th. A donated winter clothing item is your ticket to participating in non-competitive games of kickball and flag football held at Accelerated Schools in University Park. For the less athletically inclined, you can spectate, referee, or help sort clothing. CYL is accepting lightly used winter jackets, snow pants, ski goggles, gloves, scarves, and hats in all sizes. Clothing will be donated to Project Worthmore, Chris Anthony’s Youth Initiative Project, and The Tipi Raisers.

As HHAW gets closer, check back here for more events near you. Can’t make it to an official HHAW event? Check out these tips for helping people experiencing hunger and homelessness:

  • Buy $10 gift cards to King Soopers to give to panhandlers requesting money for food
  • Distribute individual bus and light-rail passes from 10-ride Local RTD booklets ($24 each)
  • Stock your backseat with bottled water or protein bars to pass out at intersections
  • Carry a baggy of dog treats in your purse or briefcase (but never feed someone’s canine companion without permission)
  • Dial 2-1-1 if you see a citizen outside on a dangerously frigid day; Mile High United Way will help him or her find safe refuge indoors

Or, consider donating to local organizations like the ones listed below:
Clothes to Kids of Denver
How They Help: Provide free school clothing to preschool-12th grade students from low-income or in-crisis families so they can feel comfortable and confident in the classroom
Dress for Success Denver
How They Help: Provide low-income or at-risk women with professional attire and resources to help them thrive in the workplace
Father Woody’s Haven of Hope
How They Help: Provide food, shelter, clothing, and counseling services to the homeless and less fortunate
The Gathering Place
How They Help: Operate a daytime drop-in center for women, their children, and transgender individuals who are experiencing poverty