Thanksgiving is three days away and, if you are like me, you can already taste the turkey, cranberry sauce (from the can, of course!), and pumpkin pie. Fall is my favorite time of year. The air is crisp and many celebrations await us!
Do you ever feel a bit sad around the holidays? Has Thanksgiving lost its magic somehow? Do you struggle to enjoy your food, fun, and fellowship because you cannot stop thinking about the people who are not enjoying a carefree Thanksgiving celebration?
If so, you can take that inner-struggle and put it to work. You will never meet the needs of an entire hemisphere, country, or town, but you can make a difference for someone. If we all had a give back mentality, there would be fewer hurting, hungry, and lonely people.
Talk to your significant other, a parent, or a friend, and brainstorm ways you can use this season to be a blessing. It takes a little prodding to get ourselves off the couch and into the community (especially those of us who are shy), but the reward is great. We need to give. When we do not give, we become stagnant and emotionally diseased. Think of misers who count their pennies and hoard their wealth. Are they happy? No, they certainly are not; but, those wealthy benefactors who share their good fortunes find far more fulfillment. They know there is more to life than collecting treasure – and that person makes his true fortune by what he gives away.
Here are a few ideas for how you and your Thanksgiving companions can give a little back this week:
- Volunteer together at a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, or another established charity. If the popular ministries are well stocked with volunteers and resources, think outside the box and look for smaller charities which need help.
- Offer goods to those in your community who are in need. You can do this in several ways. Mom keeps peanut butter crackers and water in her car to give to panhandlers. Each “snack pack” also includes a gospel tract. If you have a large group (and permission), you can set up a table and pass out food, toys, and encouraging conversation – even offering to pray with people who approach you. You can collect canned goods for a food drive. If you are short on time, you can grab several canned goods during your next trip to the grocery store.
- Sponsor a family for Thanksgiving. There are organizations available which provide families with a Thanksgiving meal. Some grocery stores supply families in need with Thanksgiving food boxes which customers can purchase in the check-out line. Soup kitchens and some churches furnish a Thanksgiving banquet. Whether you donate to help feed hundreds of people or provide a complete Thanksgiving meal for one family to enjoy at home, you will make a difference with your contribution.
- Volunteer your time to improve conditions. If you have a talent for fixing leaks, painting, and overhauling worn down spaces, you will always be in high demand! While soup kitchens and other ministries work year-round to provide for the community’s needs, their establishments receive much wear and tear. You can bless the community by blessing those who bless the community. ~smile~ Check out your local charity organizations and see if you can improve the quality of their buildings – and bring your sweetheart; four hands are (usually) better than two!
- Love on the children. My friend and her oldest daughter stood outside the soup kitchen last December and handed out goodie bags to the passing children. It was a small, but heartfelt gesture. In fact, her daughter said, “Mommy, it really is more fun to give than receive.” That statement is music to a parent’s ears! There is a small window of innocence in a child’s life before he or she forms solid opinions about the world. You can get to some of them before they are jaded. Whether you hand out goodie bags like my friend did, volunteer at a child-centered ministry, or organize a city-wide, child-friendly extravaganza (with help, of course), you can make a difference. Whatever you decide to do, find a way to communicate with each child individually.
Did this list spark any ideas? Do you have any ministries in mind which could use your specific talents? Whether you build a shelter or collect food, your contribution matters. Do not give in to the lie that you have to do something big to be a blessing. Ministries and charities consist of willing people – people of varying talents, ethnicities, and backgrounds – who work together to achieve a large and worthwhile goal.
Your contribution matters.
How will you and your loved ones minister to your community this week?