It’s not just all Macy’s parade and sweet potato pie for many people this Thanksgiving.
New York Times bestselling author, Regina Brett famously said, “If we all threw our problems in a pile, and saw everyone else’s we’d grab ours back.” You can read her famed 50 Lessons Life Taught Me. Thanksgiving is a time for being grateful and also spreading the love to others who haven’t been as lucky.
The refugee crisis, homelessness, and an increase in people being diagnosed with serious illnesses are just some of today’s truly pressing issues. Whether it’s volunteering or donating, doing a charity run or simply inviting a lonely person to dinner, making this Thanksgiving special for others needn’t cost the Earth and takes just a little time. ‘Tis the season for being thankful and giving back. Here are some suggestions for NYC:
Organise a fundraiser
Syria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. Over 14 million children need humanitarian assistance in Syria and neighboring countries. The pictures of a drowned Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi recently shocked many to the core and The U.S. Fund for UNICEF has said that donations have gone up 636%. Help out by organising a fundraiser such as a sporting event, dinner party, a car boot or even a bake sale – just apply on the UNICEF website. You can also donate to the charity, as 90% of every dollar spent goes directly to helping children.
Invite a neighbor to dinner
Invite a lonely friend, neighbor or colleague that you know has no company, or is going through a tough time for dinner. We often forget that simple things like doing something kind-hearted locally can be the grandest of gestures. You never know when you might be in the same situation, and it’s such a thoughtful offer. You could plan for a wallet-friendly Thanksgiving.
Ticketed food events
Instead of hitting the Black Friday sales with the masses get involved at Crossroads Community Services with Fare Share Friday. What is it? This is an annual celebration where soup kitchen regulars and volunteers at Crossroads sit down to a fabulous meal from the chefs at Waldorf Astoria and Palace hotels. Held on the day after Thanksgiving, all the money goes to support the homeless shelter and soup kitchen itself. It’s held in St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue.
Provide some warmth
60,000 New Yorkers spend each night in homeless shelters. 23,000 of those New Yorkers are children. Clean out your closet and gather as many coats as you can from friends and family. That frumpy winter jacket may be a lifeline for someone on the streets. The New York Cares Coat Drive collects and provides coats to the homeless and financially hard up as a much needed “respite from the cold and an embrace from a caring neighbor.” With shocking figures like this, the more coats the better. You can also buy a coat online and ship it directly to the warehouse.
Ethical Thanksgiving gifting
Drink wine and be charitable? Over at the Food Bank this year, you just have to get sipping a glass of wine to help out. It’s that simple. From October 1 to end December 2015, EJ Gallo Winery will donate one meal to Food Bank New York City when you buy a bottle of Frei Brothers, William Hill Estate Winery, MacMurray Ranch or Edna Valley Vineyards wine in New York City.
Meal deliveries and running
On November 22, grab your running shoes and join the crowds for God’s Love We Deliver’s Annual Race to Deliver. God’s Love dishes out over 1.4 million meals to people who are too sick to shop or cook. It’s a great race that raises awareness and funds for the organization.
Or get involved by volunteering delivering the nutritious Thanksgiving meals to people living with cancer, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. Volunteers need a driver’s license and some spare time on Thanksgiving morning. Kids are welcome to come along with parents and do their bit too. Children can also get creative by decorating holiday bags and cards for deliveries—a really great way to get the kids in a charitable frame of mind.
Share your talent
You Gotta Believe is a project for adopting older kids and youth and offers adoption services, supports parents and youths, leads campaigns, educates and shares resources for professionals. This Thanksgiving, volunteers can put their talents to some use. Whether you are a musician, artist, teacher or just love organising events, YGB want you. Just drop them a line to see where you can pitch in. Many kids at YGB have not had a positive start in life and have been through trauma, so it really is a way to spread the love.