Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for what we have, it’s also a perfect time to become more aware of those who are less fortunate. Here are ten ways to put the “giving” in Thanksgiving.
Americans throw away $165 billion in uneaten food each year and Thanksgiving makes for $293 million of that waste. That’s a shocking amount considering 40 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including more than 12 million children. This year instead of tossing your Thanksgiving leftovers (or letting them sit in the fridge till you throw them out a week later) make a point of giving them to those who cannot afford to eat. There are plenty of organizations that facilitated getting uneaten food to the needy.
You don’t have to wait for spring cleaning. With all the free time you’ll have during the holiday, take thirty minutes to sort through your closet. That shirt you haven’t worn in three years would look much better on someone who doesn’t have access to new clothes. Especially with the colder months rolling in, donating coats and sweaters you don’t wear anymore could save lives. Drop your clothes off at the closest Goodwill and you’re not only creating opportunities for homeless people you’re also saving the environment by not throwing your things away.
If you want to get clothing to the homeless on a larger scale you can assist in the collection. It can be fun and extremely rewarding to set up a clothing drive. Firstly decide what you want to collect, around this time of year food and warm clothing are important. Secondly, find a charity that you believe in and let them know you want to help. Finally set a time and place for people to drop off their items. Some drives will hand out cookies or hot drinks as a reward of sorts for every donation.
Giving back to the environment, especially now, is an important thing to remind yourself to do. Most of the year we take our earth for granted and there’s no better day than Thanksgiving to give the planet some “TLC.” Many cities will organize environmental cleanups on Thanksgiving day. Get outside and turn it into a group activity with family or friends.
We often forget to be thankful for our health. When we’re not sick it’s easy to take our wellbeing for granted. There are people who have to spend the holidays in a hospital fighting illness. There are plenty of volunteer programs that will give you the opportunity to help out in a hospital. Your friendly face could make someone’s day.
The importance of donating blood is often overlooked. In the U.S., someone is in need of blood every two seconds. It doesn’t take more than ten minutes and Red Cross makes it easy to find your closest drive and book an appointment. Blood can only be stored for a certain amount of time so regular blood donations are vital. This is a quick and important way to give back to those in need.
An important community to give back to is the older generation. We wouldn’t be here without them and a little goes a long way. By visiting a nursing home you could be making someone’s day endlessly easier, whether its rolling wheelchair or grabbing something off a high shelf. Not only is your presence appreciated by the people in the home it’s also an extremely gratifying experience. You get to hear living-history and learn valuable life lessons from your seniors.
Going on a charity walk or run is a good way to get outdoors and be active while also helping a good cause. “Turkey Trots” are organized all over the U.S. They are typically the day before Thanksgiving and depending on your city they raise money for various charities. It has become increasingly more common and in 2016 more than 960,000 people across the country finished a Thanksgiving day race. Participating in a run is a perfect way to start the holiday healthily, feel less guilty about all the food your about to eat, and also help an important cause.
This one is so simple but oh so hard. This Thanksgiving we should all be mindful about unplugging. We get so caught up in our technology and should use any excuse to totally disconnect. Technology breaks are so important because of the increased amount of time we spend on our phones. On average adults in the U.S. spend roughly three and a half hours on their phone a day. Cutting down that use will help you to connect with family and friends and live in the moment. On a holiday that is centered around being thankful for what we have to make sure to look up from your device and appreciate the people around you.
Written by Delfina Forstmann