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Give a Hand – Or a Turkey – This Thanksgiving

November 22, 2011

This Thursday most of you will sit down to a turkey (or tofurkey) dinner surrounded by ample amounts of mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, biscuits, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Yum.

But millions of Americans may not even get a hot dinner on Thursday, much less a turkey with all the trimmings. Nearly 50 million Americans — including more than 16 million children — are food insecure, meaning they ‘were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.’ Right here in Washington, the number of homeless families grew by more than 7 percent last year.

As we head into the holidays and the spirit of that joyous time takes over our lives, let’s count our blessings and maybe throw a blessing toward someone less fortune in our own community. I’m inspired by stories like the Southeast DC businessman who gave away hundreds of turkeys this weekend.

Lending a hand doesn’t have to mean giving a turkey. Here are a few ways to help out this holiday season:

Donate to a food bank

DC’s So Others Might Eat (SOME) says it especially needs non-perishable foods like ground coffee, cereal, and canned meats and tuna. Last year, Bread for the City provided groceries for nearly 5000 households a month. Among its most-needed items: low-sodium canned beans and vegetables, dry beans, 100% juice, whole grain & unsweetened cereal (like oatmeal or Cheerios). The Capital Area Food bank fed more than 480,000 people last year and has detailed instructions for hosting a food drive — how about inviting your Thanksgiving guests to each bring a few canned goods to donate?

Donate winter gear

As the weather gets colder and we all start complaining about the chill in the air, what about the people who don’t have a heated house to escape to or a warm coat to snuggle up in. Among the most needed items are men’s coats/jackets, boots, underwear and socks. Burlington Coat Factory is holding its annual Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive. Do you have a coat in your closet that you haven’t worn for a few years? Consider donating it. As incentive, Burlington will give you 10% off the purchase of a new coat when you donate one.

Participate in a turkey trot

Burn calories before the evening feast and help a needy neighbor. Many area turkey trots benefit local charities. The 29th annual Bethesda Turkey Chase supports the YMCA, which supports services for low-income adults and kids. SOME’s Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger, which starts in Freedom Plaza, helps supports the nonprofit’s work throughout the year. The Arlington Turkey Trot supports three local charities and has raised more than $100,000 over the past 5 years.

Give time

Food and Friends takes volunteers on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day to deliver fresh food boxes. Each volunteer only delivers a few boxes, so it’s not an all-day commitment, but it makes a real difference to the family receiving the meal. Martha’s Table serves hot meals in its mobile soup wagon 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Homeless Washingtonians in 3 locations get soup and sandwiches daily thanks to this service.

How will you volunteer this year? Feel free to share other volunteer/charity opportunities in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 11:21 am

    I’m running SOME’s Trot for Hunger. It’s such a great organization, and I’m really hoping to spend some time volunteering there in the future. That could be a good idea for a blogger get together this winter!

  2. November 22, 2011 6:24 pm

    I love the idea of having each guest at your Thanksgiving dinner bringing something for the local food bank! So simple and easy, but it makes such a difference.

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