The Many Ways to Give Thanks

Right about now, the majority of your thoughts might have something to do with turkey, stuffing, pie, cold weather and fall colors. Beyond all of the the family, food and festivities, many of us also take time on Thanksgiving to reflect on what we’ve been thankful for during the past year. However, sometimes the realization of how fortunate we really are comes from helping those less fortunate than us. As our children learn first and foremost through our own example, including them in some holiday-time charity could be one of the best lessons they take with them as they get older.

Whether it be through volunteering, donations, or simple activities and discussions at home, we’ve got a few fun ideas on how you can truly make the most of “giving thanks.”

Home Activities:

Giving Day – Take some time out during the day to go through your things and find items to donate to local charities, food banks, women’s and homeless shelters, or larger organizations like the Red Cross and Goodwill. Simple items like blankets, sweaters, games, or unperishable foods that go unused throughout the year can mean the world to those who cannot afford them. Even pet shelters are in need! Many local animal rescue centers take donations of unused food, toys or bedding.

Blessings Box – Remember what you’re thankful for all throughout the year. Create a Blessings Box that your family adds to each time a positive event happens. Collect all of the blessings and read them aloud Thanksgiving night.

Help a Neighbor – Whether it’s mowing a lawn, pet-sitting, assisting an elderly with daily errands, or inviting a single neighbor over for dinner, little things can mean a lot to those who may not have the time or resources to help themselves. And you may end up getting a little help back in return!

Send Thanks Abroad – Many troops stationed overseas do not have the opportunity to be with their own families during the holidays. Create holiday cards or put together a care package to help them feel a little closer to home.

Donations and Volunteering:

Give Blood – Although this may be for parents-only, blood is a constantly-needed resource that can be donated quickly and easily at any time. Check local listings for Thanksgiving blood drives, or simply donate whenever you’re able.

Bring cheer to the sick or elderly – Those in hospitals or nursing homes many times have to spend Thanksgiving without their families or home-cooked meals. Spreading cheer whether through gifts, serving them dinner, or simply giving them someone to talk to is a simple way to brighten their day.

Food and clothing drives: Of course, there are always plenty of opportunities to donate food, gifts, and time on Thanksgiving as well. Look up local charity drives, shelters or food banks in your area to find out how you and your family can “give thanks” this year.

We’ve rounded up a list of Thanksgiving events, whether you’re in need or you’d just like to lend a helping hand to others:

Fred Jordan Missons
445 Towne Ave Los Angeles, CA 90013
(626) 915-1981
Thursday, November 25th
http://www.fjm.org/
Inner city families will be treated to a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings this Thanksgiving Day as the Fred Jordan Mission’s Street Banquet hosts their annual event, helping those on Skid Row celebrate a day where food would otherwise be scarce. The mission is always looking for volunteers and food donations for Thanksgiving as well as their other yearly events. Visit their website to find out how you can contribute. Signup for volunteer here.

Midnight Mission
601 South San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, California 90014
(213) 624-9258
Thursday, November 23rd
Website
Also helping needy Skid Row families is Downtown L.A.’s Midnight Mission, who will host a full Thanksgiving meal on November 25th. Although all volunteer spots for the event are currently filled, Midnight Mission accepts food donations both on Thanksgiving and year round.

Westside Thanksgiving
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium – 1855 Main St., Santa Monica
Thursday, November 25, 2010 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
http://www.westsidethanksgiving.org/
Hosted by the Santa Monica Vineyard Christian Fellowship, West LA’s biggest Thanksgiving feast relies entirely on donations from the local community. Chefs line up at the Santa Monica Civic Center on Thanksgiving morning to donate roasted turkeys for students, singles, low-income families, seniors and homeless diners joining the celebration. Organizers are still looking for help via food and volunteers. Visit their website above or sign up to volunteer on their hotline at 310-394-3153.

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