Thanksgiving and Christmas are seasons for giving and a food bank or soup kitchen is a great place to donate. Is your workplace or church hosting a food drive? Here are the best food bank donations. If you work at a mission, homeless shelter or food pantry, you know that some items you get too much of and others, never enough. Use this Christmas shopping list to donate when food basket collection comes around.

Personal care items for food pantry

Neither WIC nor EBT food programs will buy personal hygiene, health and beauty aids or healthcare items.

A food pantry feeds but also tends to health needs. Homeless and women's shelters need personal care items: shampoo, cream rinse, soap, dental floss, toothpaste, toilet paper, antifungal cream, powder, anti-itch lotion, first aid cream, bandages, hemorrhoid cream, lip balm, feminine protection products, vitamins, pain reliever (aspirin, Tylenol, Motrin), cough medicine, tampons and sanitary napkins. Check mission website for specific Thanksgiving holiday requests.

Household products for food bank

It may sound odd to suggest putting household items in a food basket but food stamps also won't buy paper products and people still need them. Give zippered plastic bags, foil, paper towels, paper lunch sacks, dish soap, laundry soap, fabric softener, detergent, plastic wrap, blankets, towels, light bulbs, batteries (for Christmas gifts donated to kids' missions), matches, soft scrub, bleach and cleansing powder.

Missions always need An animal shelter can use these items too.

Give meat and entrees to food bank

Donate canned goods and packaged entrees with protein or meat to the food bank. Choose canned fish, chicken, salmon and mackerel, foil packaged tuna, canned salmon, refried beans, kidney beans, pork and beans, peanuts, peanut butter, almond butter, nuts, canned pasta with meat, chili, corned beef hash, beef stew, canned soups, beef jerky or pemmican, tamales, cream soup, canned milk, protein bars and drinks, cheese sauce and spread and canned macaroni and cheese.

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If your food pantry takes refrigerated items, give yogurt, cheese sticks, lunch-size milk, and Lunchables. And don't forget to share a Thanksgiving turkey if you can.

Donate no-fuss single-serve foods

People who receive from a Thanksgiving food bank may be homeless, so they have no way to cook. Donate packaged convenience Foods that require little prep or ingredients.

Give hot foods to warm on cold winter nights. Avoid paper-wrapped foods. Give Belvita breakfast crackers, baking mix, breakfast cereal, hot cereal, oatmeal packets, pancake mix, boxed pasta, crackers, beans, instant coffee, rice, cake mix, tea bags, school snacks, fruit snacks, granola, and syrup. Avoid giving too much junk food as obesity is a concern among low-income families, says the CDC.

Canned foods to give and avoid

Skip canned peas, corn, and beans and give canned carrots, beets, spinach, mixed vegetables, regional vegetables, mushrooms, and asparagus. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart failure are also issues, so look for healthy, low sodium, lowfat, sugarfree diet foods recommended for weight loss.

Donate no-added sugar canned fruit, individual fruit, pudding, vegetable and applesauce cups, fruit cocktail, peaches, pineapple, tropical fruit, grapefruit, pears, berries and mandarin oranges. Give cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie mix, pumpkin and canned cherry pie filling for Thanksgiving and Christmas food basket donations.

Include children in Thanksgiving giving

Kids with plenty should learn that before they celebrate Holidays, it's important to make sure those without are being fed. Bring your children with you to help shop for and pack food basket donations. This teaches them the real meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas: giving thanks and showing love in deeds of charity.