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- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Carlton and Hilary volunteer at a homeless shelter but purely for their own interests; Carlton wants a note of recommendation to help get into Princeton, while Hilary wants to promote her TV show by filming a sob story for Thanksgiving. After the food runs out the two pay for a posh meal complete with waiters and Hilary decides not to exploit the poor for one day of the year.
- Glee: Sue attempts to recruit homeless shelter volunteers for Christmas hoping to get the Glee Club.
- Coronation Street: Sophie drags Sally to a shelter on Christmas 2013, only for Sophie get into a fight with one homeless girl who shoves her face into a dessert. Her purse gets stolen soon after and of course she blames it on the girl.
- Keeping Up Appearances has a Christmas Special where Richard is forced to dress up as Father Christmas as he hands out gifts to the old people at the Church Hall. But when he gets drunk on sherry, Emmet has to take over.
- Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 has a episode where James Van Der Beek volunteers to join a celebrity soup kitchen on Thanksgiving in order to get publicity and is unpleasantly surprised when he and Luther actually have to work.
- Bad Education Christmas Special has Miss Gulliver attempting to persuade her students to volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
- 7th Heaven episode "Here Comes Santa Claus," each of the kids has to do a good deed over the holiday season; Matt becomes a mall Santa, Mary volunteers at the soup kitchen (and is happy that a hot boy was recruited alongside her), and Simon is determined to help Ruthie keep her faith in Santa.
- The Home Improvement episode "The Wood, the Bad and the Hungry" has Randy volunteering at a soup kitchen for Thanksgiving. As he's leaving, one of the regulars is upset about spending the day at a shelter, so Jill invites him back for a meal at their house.
- In one NCIS: Los Angeles episode, Deeks teases throughout the show that he has a hot date for Christmas. At the end of the episode, he presents Kensi with a Santa hat and invites her to join him for his 'date' - volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
- Gilmore Girls has Paris attempting to volunteer at a soup kitchen over Thanksgiving so she can put it on her college application, only to be told they don't need any more help.
"Who are all these jackasses who volunteered anyway? They can't all be students like me. They're not all putting it on a college application. I get something out of it and these other people don't get a thing. Talk about selfish."
- M*A*S*H: During several Christmases, the 4077th hosts the children from nearby orphanages instead of getting blind stinking drunk as they would've done otherwise.
- The first Thanksgiving episode of How I Met Your Mother features Ted and Robin trying to volunteer at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. However, thanks to this trope, there's no openings. Much to their surprise, Barney is a rock star volunteer and vouches for them. However, they soon learn that the volunteers aren't exactly the saints they envisioned, and wind up being kicked out. In the end, the true charity Ted performs that day is buying a homeless man a lap dance. Further, it's revealed that Barney is volunteering because he's been sentenced to community service for urinating on a church.
- 30 Rock: Tracy finds a $50,000 gift card for a chain of restaurants (that expires in a day) on Leap Day. After realizing he couldn't spend it all himself, he invites everybody from the local Soup Kitchen to join him.
- The Golden Girls episode "Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas" sees Stan (once again) attempting to get the girls to invest in his business. They're not interested and instead head off to the soup kitchen to volunteer, where they find Stan in the line.
- In The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Santa Flanders' one-hour task is to Serve the Poor.
- In Arthur's Perfect Christmas (no relation to Arthur Christmas), we learn that Binky and his family volunteer at the shelter on Christmas. He spends the show giving out practice desserts he's made and getting feedback - like you're supposed to shell pecans before making them into pie.
- Futurama: In the episode "Xmas Story," Bender volunteers at a Liquor Kitchen (for homeless robots), only to pose as a homeless robot himself and drink all the free booze. In the end he invites some of the robots back to have Christmas dinner with the rest of Planet Express.