The True Spirit of Thanksgiving

November 16, 2014 | Posted by Sally Jackson

Thanksgiving: we talk a lot of turkey (or not), but it’s not just about the food. Thanksgiving is about showing gratitude for our good fortune -- and while one way to do that may be over a feast with our family, another is by extending a hand to those who may be less fortunate than we. Why not then take some time this holiday season to express our thanks by volunteering and spreading goodwill?

Ideally, we would all have both the inclination and time to volunteer year-round (it’s not as though need is a one-day thing), but for many of us, that’s just not the case.

There are plenty of ways to give back this Thanksgiving season, whether it’s donating goods to a local food pantry (find yours here:, running/walking in your town’s version of a Turkey Trot (a local race on or around Thanksgiving that benefits a charitable organization), delivering meals to the homebound elderly (Bobby’s favorite charity has always been Citymeals on Wheels) or participating in the preparation and/or service of a Thanksgiving meal at a local soup kitchen (find a directory at the National Coalition for the Homeless).

My family has spent our Thanksgiving morning working with the outstanding organization Gobble Gobble Give, and I’d like to give them a special shout-out. Working in loaned space (In NYC they operate out of the Church of the Intercession in Harlem), Gobble Gobble Give boxes homemade holiday dishes, toiletry items, blankets and clothing, all brought by its volunteer crew, and delivers the meals and goods to local homeless populations -- whether that means to a shelter or under a bridge.The potluck nature of the meals fosters an immediate sense of community with your fellow volunteers, and children are invited too, so it all together feels like a family affair -- just the way to spend Thanksgiving.

Whatever you find, and however you give, knowing that you made a difference in the lives of others, even if it is just one day, is a wonderful thing. Yes, you’re giving back, but there’s definitely something to be gained in return.