Free Thanksgiving meals for the community: Where to eat, how to volunteer

Cropped Photo: Anthony Quintano / CC BY 2.0

Looking for a way to enjoy community at no cost this Thanksgiving, or volunteer to help with a Thanksgiving meal for people in need?

We've got you covered:

BeLoved Community: Thanksgiving Fiesta from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at 36 Grove Street (City of Asheville Rec Center) in downtown Asheville

Rev. Amy Cantrell of BeLoved says the community organization will serve a Mexican lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Why Mexican? She says people served by BeLoved often eat a few meals of Thanksgiving fare around this time of year, and they specifically requested something different.

BeLoved will have a mariachi band and a meal for everyone in need. Volunteers are needed throughout the event, Cantrell said, saying the organization would do its best to put everyone to work during the event and afterward, when leftovers are packaged up and delivered.

Fiesta guests and volunteers then take the packages and deliver them as a Thanksgiving surprise to anyone they find working the holiday, from convenience store clerks to law enforcement.

BeLoved also welcomes donations toward its Thanksgiving Fiesta, which can be made here.

People can also donate warm-weather gear that will be distributed to the event.

Salvation Army Asheville: Thanksgiving meal at the Center of Hope

Salvation Army representative Leesha Ogle says the Salvation Army has all the volunteers it needs for its Thanksgiving meal, but people can come and eat from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Center of Hope at 204 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville.

There is still room to volunteer with the Salvation Army for the meal it will serve on Christmas Day. Volunteers will be needed from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m on Christmas.

WNC Rescue Ministries: Thanksgiving Banquets

WNC Rescue ministries is serving five Thanksgiving meals daily, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday during Thanksgiving week. The organization has all the volunteers it needs for both its Thanksgiving meals and its Christmas meal on December 22.

The organizations has volunteer opportunities throughout the holiday season, and encourages people to volunteer for other needs. To learn more about volunteering with WNC Rescue Ministries, click here.

You can donate to WNC Rescue Ministries here.

ABCCM: Thanksgiving meal at Steadfast House

Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry will serve a Thanksgiving meal at Steadfast House, a home for women on Asheland Avenue. Currently, ABCCM is staffed with volunteers for the Thanksgiving meal.

Volunteers are still needed for Christmas Day. To volunteer for Steadfast House, contact the volunteer coordinator at or 828-398-6615.

Eblen-Kimmel Charities: Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Eblen-Kimmel has already distributed vouchers for a free turkey and food donations toward a Thanksgiving meal. However, the organization expects to have unused vouchers at the end of the day on Wednesday.

If you want to see if there are free Thanksgiving foods to pick up for your household, be at the Eblen-Kimmel offices in Westgate Mall on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, closer to the time that distribution ends, around 4 p.m.

According to an Eblen-Kimmel press release, each turkey weighs between 10 and 14 pounds. This year Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving also includes green beans, dressing mix, instant potatoes, cranberry sauce, cake mix, and frosting to the Thanksgiving meal.

“This program has grown so much in the past twelve years and so many that we will serve this Wednesday have never had to ask for help before. it is important to all of us to make sure that everyone we reach out to knows that how happy we are to share Thanksgiving with them and their families.” remarked Bill Murdock, executive director of Eblen Charities.

For more information on Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving, contact Bill Murdock at 828-242-2848 or by email at

You can donate to Eblen-Kimmel here.

12 Baskets and the Asheville Poverty Initiative : Pre-Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving

UpCountry Brewing Company on Haywood Road plans a collaboration beer release on Wednesday, during which it will accept donations for the meals it will serve to the community without charge on Thanksgiving week:

We're celebrating the holiday a little early this year with some killer shenanigans. Come hang with us as we release our collaboration beer with Harpoon Brewery! A dollar from every pour of this beer will go to 12 Baskets Cafe: a program of Asheville Poverty Initiative, who will be hanging with us with some brochures + information about their mission. We'll also have live music from Cat and Crow, a regular duo at UpCountry Brewing, to play some soulful original tunes.
Although it's not required, we encourage you to bring any canned or packaged food donations to our place so that the incredible 12 Baskets team can use it to cook for families during this holiday week.

Of course, 12 Baskets plans a Thanksgiving meal, which will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at 610 Haywood Road in West Asheville.

The organization says it welcomes donations of paper towels, toilet paper, sugar and creamer.

A 12 Baskets representative says they are well-staffed with volunteers for Thanksgiving Day, but are always looking to expand their volunteer base.

12 Baskets holds volunteer orientations the first Tuesday of every month. The next orientation will be December 5, 2017, and will be posted as an event on their Facebook page when the date gets a little closer.

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