If you're just now looking into volunteer opportunities for Thanksgiving Day, we hate to break it to you: You might be too late. Many volunteer lists are already full, especially for those photo-op moments of scooping out corn niblets and ladling gravy for a sea of hungry and needy people.

But even if you can't serve at a charitable holiday buffet, there is still one important thing you can do: Cook a turkey, a pan of mashed potatoes, or even a pie.

To an organization like Union Station Homeless Services, receiving 400 turkeys is one thing; to actually roast them in a kitchen with only two small ovens is another. That's where you come in.

Every Thanksgiving, the organization feeds thousands of people at the annual Holiday Dinner in the Park in Pasadena's Central Park. And while food donations are very important, the staff always needs help with food prep, which you can do at home.

Bring cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casseroles, stuffing, fresh salads, pies, cakes, cookies and brownies to the giant potluck. Everything should be packaged in disposable aluminum containers with this document attached (filled in, of course). There will also be a pantry set up, so non-perishable food items are also welcome.

All donations can be dropped off from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the park; there will be a curb-side station set up on the northeast corner of Fair Oaks and Del Mar. You don't even need to get out of the car.

There are still volunteer positions open for the 12th annual Gobble Gobble Give, but the whole thing couldn't happen without the food. If you can't give time, bring cooked turkey, stuffing and other fixings, dinner rolls and dessert–home-cooked or store-bought, it doesn't matter–to The Echoplex in Echo Park on Thursday. The food will be packaged into individual meals, and delivered to homeless men, women and children around the city. Other necessities like toiletries, clothing and blankets are also collected and distributed. “Make or purchase as much as you like,” is the motto. Here are some scenes from last year when more than 500 volunteers helped make more than 2700 meals.

The turkey quota is already filled for The Westside Thanksgiving Celebration, but organizers still need baked pumpkin pies, pre-ground coffee, and large cans of cranberry sauce. Everything can be dropped off at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium between 6 and 9 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 24). They'll also take cash donations, and still need volunteers for clean up between 3 and 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The hotline message simply says: “Just come on down to help out.”

LA Weekly