Thanksgiving Thoughts…

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays – it is the time of the year that I miss being in the US the most.  To me, it represents the best of American traditions – good food, time spent with family, chilling in front of the football, crisp weather…  I always describe it to non-Americans as Christmas, but without the presents.

I think the reason I am so committed to charity fundraising is down to something my mother did with me in tow one Thanksgiving.  I must have been about 6 or 7.  We lived in a small town in Maryland.  My mother had heard of an old man without much money and she was worried that he would not have enough food at Thanksgiving time.  She decided to organise a food drive for him, and we went to the neighbours houses collecting cans of food.  I walked with her as we went from house to house, when she explained the situation and asked people to give what they could.  And I went with her to the man’s house on a hill, delivering the box of food we had collected, to his surprise.

Fast forward to my years at University.  Although I grew up in Hawaii, I returned to the east coast of the US and attended the University of Maryland.  I was busy with school and student activities, so one Thanksgiving didn’t make any plans to go away – I needed the time to catch up on things.  A group of us who had hung around the university decided to go to DC and volunteer at a soup kitchen, serving Thanksgiving meals to the homeless. 

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what you have.  A time to enjoy food and family.  But what if you don’t have that?  What if you don’t have a house, or what if you don’t know where your next hot meal will come from?

There were a lot of people at the shelter that day.  A lot of people just grateful for a hot meal.  I cleared trays from the tables – weaving my way through so many people.  Mentally disturbed people who lived on the streets – down on their luck people due to the bad economy at the time.  I tried to smile and remember that these were people – individuals – and I tried to show respect and have conversations.  I cannot express how this day made me feel – the only word that comes to mind is humbled.

In honour of Thanksgiving and the memories I have – my mother’s campaign to help the old man in our community, my university experience when I helped others to have a hot meal on Thanksgiving – and as a part of my “40 Things” challenge – I have donated $40 to the DC Central Kitchen.

The DC Central Kitchen helps thousands of people out in DC everday through a variety of programmes – from recycling surplus food from DC area businesses to make meals for the homeless (distributed to about 100 shelters in the DC area), to serving a warm breakfast each day to area homeless during which time counsellors are able to have conversations and provide an outreach service, to offering training programmes in culinary skills for unemployed adults, and providing nutrition education programmes to low income youths and families in partnership with the DC social services…  What can I say?  The DC Central Kitchen does so much for Washington DC, the city in which I was born and where I had so many experiences that made me who I am today.

So, on this Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?  Who will you pass this gratitude along to?  How?

2 responses to “Thanksgiving Thoughts…”

  1. We travelled a lot when I was a child, but my parents always preserved the tradition…it was wonderful to introduce people from other cultures to it. Our home, wherever we were we always welcomed others into the tradition. No soup kitchens in my past, but lots of charitable giving, too.

  2. Great stories grin We had a great thanksgiving…and were so happy to skype with you. I have always wanted to serve food at a shelter on thanksgiving. I really want to do more to give back to my community…thanks for the inspiration grin

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