It's a big public holiday but our characters have decided that rather than spend the day stuffing their faces, drinking themselves into oblivion or spending a quiet day at home, they're going to give up their free time and help out those less fortunate. The holiday in question varies; in the USA it's likely to be Thanksgiving while in other countries Christmas is going to be the top spot, but the traditional job is normally serving out food in a homeless shelter/soup kitchen. Expect a clash of class, quirky characters and for somebody to learn the True Meaning of Christmas.
open/close all folders
- 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 shoved one of their faces 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. Only he gets drunk on cherry and 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 one of the kids had to do a good deed over the holiday season; Matt became a mall Santa, Mary volunteered at the soup-kitchen (and was happy that a hot boy was recruited alongside her) while Simon was determined to help Ruthie keep her faith in Santa.
- Home Improvement episode "The Wood, the Bad and the Hungry" has Randy volunteers at a soup kitchen for Thanksgiving. While leaving one of the regulars is upset about spending the day at a shelter so Jill invites him back for a meal at theirs.
- At the end of a NCIS: Los Angeles episode Deeks and Kensi get Santa hats and help feed the homeless, after spending the whole episode thinking Deeks had a hot date.
- 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 anymore;
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 rockstar volunteer and vouches for them. However, they soon learn that the volunteers aren't exactly the saints they envisioned, and wound up being kicked out. In the end, the true charity Ted performs that day was buying a homeless man a lapdance. 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" Stan (once again) attempts 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 drinks all the free booze. In the end he invites some of the robots back to have Christmas dinner with the rest of planet express.