This Thanksgiving, many of us will gather for a traditional family dinner where we go around the table sharing the reasons for which we are so thankful. Then, we will slip away with our bellies full to catch the Cowboys play the Bills or the Falcons take on the Saints. And, if we are lucky, we may even snag a few Black Friday deals before the department stores are completely ransacked. These are just a few simple traditions that truly make the holidays worth celebrating.
If you are looking to switch up your routine, giving back to your local community is the perfect change of pace. Here are just a few ways you and your family can make “giving back” a part of your Thanksgiving tradition:
Volunteer At Your Nearest Soup Kitchen
During the holiday season, soup kitchens across the country experience an overwhelming increase in the number of hungry individuals seeking nourishment and shelter. Having more hands on deck to combat the holiday rush means less time waiting in lines and more time enjoying a warm meal. Finding a soup kitchen can be pretty simple; a quick Google search typically does the trick. www.homelessshelterdirectory.org is a great resource to find volunteer opportunities at an emergency food center near you.
Donate To A Food Bank
Food banks are without a doubt one of the top emergency food sources for those seeking nourishment, providing over four million meals each year. Thriving primarily off of donations, contributions are critical to their mission to fight hunger, especially now with federal cuts targeting food assistance programs. However, before running to home to load up your box of goodies, contact your local food bank to ask if there is a shortage of any items in particular. This way, food banks are better equipped to provide everyone with a nutritiously balanced meal.
Invite A New Guest(s) Over
Extending a seat at the table this Thanksgiving could be a great way to share holiday traditions you hold so dear with someone who does not have a place to go. If you’re not comfortable inviting a someone new into your home, you can reach out to your local church. Most churches are involved in their communities, and many, to the extent that they could connect you with someone who would appreciate a quality family meal. Perhaps there is a lonely neighbor or a student away at college that could use the company. Either way, the kind gesture goes a long way this time of year.
Feast With Your Furry Friends
Maybe you are not big on letting outsiders into your home but would be more comfortable spending quality time with an adorable pet without a home. Families are now turning to animal shelters to spend their holidays with animals in need. While many shelters are closed during major holidays, some offer the option to foster an animal for a few days. You have the opportunity to care for a pet for a couple of days, giving them the chance to experience the joys of being around a loving family in a nice home. Studies show that having a pet around creates a more calming and peaceful atmosphere—and we can all appreciate a bit more peace these days.
Make A Charitable Donation… ONLINE
Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever to give back without even leaving your couch. There are countless charities looking to make a difference in the life of a family in need and your support could be the push they need. Be warned, online charities have gained widespread popularity so it is important to do your research. Not everyone online has good intentions, which is why sites like www.charitynavigator.org and www.guidestar.org come in handy when verifying the legitimacy of a cause. It is easy to be swept up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. But as we enjoy the time spent with our friends and family, let us not forget about those who regularly go without. Use this Thanksgiving to start a new tradition and make a difference in the life of someone in need.