12 Ways to Connect with Your Community This Thanksgiving
Can you even believe it’s November already?? How fast has this year gone, really? It’s crazy to think that Christmas is just around the corner, but with all the beautiful red and green sparkly goodies already on display in the stores, it’s kind of hard to miss. What does seem to be getting overlooked more and more these days is Thanksgiving…and I personally, have a problem with that. I think that having a holiday designed to allow you to pause and be grateful is important. I think it’s important not only for our own well-being, but it’s also an important lesson for our kids. I think Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reach out to those around us and say, “I see you”. I think it is the perfect time to give back. I think it’s the perfect time to connect. So today, let’s look at twelve different ways we, as a family, can reach out, give back, and connect with our community:
1) Take a basket of goodies to a neighbor/invite that neighbor to dinner-You know the one. The one who you see sitting alone on the front porch every morning, watching the world go by. The one who waves to your family every time they see you out for a walk. The one you always seem to bump into at the mailboxes. Work up the courage and go ring the bell! Take some sort of home-baked treat, fresh fruit, or flowers with you (in a container that doesn’t have to be returned) and invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe they'll come, maybe they won't, but your treats and invitation might just be the pick-me-up they need that day!
2) Contribute to a local food drive-There are always so many to choose from this time of year and you can usually find a donation bin right there in the grocery store. When you pick up your boxed/canned goods for your own Thanksgiving dinner, grab a few extras and place them in the bin on your way out. Also keep an eye out for tear tickets at the registers that you can use to add a small donation to your total grocery bill.
3) Volunteer your time-There’s no shortage of places to do this: soup kitchens, nursing homes, community gardens, library reading programs, Habitat for Humanity, and animal shelters are always great places to start. Pick something that speaks to you and sign up for an afternoon. Take your older kids with you, if you can!
4) Keep an eye out for local businesses supporting a good cause-For example, Peggy’s on the Green in Boerne is hosting a “Pie in the Sky” campaign for November with half of the proceeds of every slice or whole pie benefiting the Boerne Education Foundation. With this approach you save yourself the time/hassle/(and for me) uncertainty of baking your own pie, support a local small business, AND contribute to a good cause: win/win/win!
5) Invite a military member (or two) for dinner-I know what it’s like to be hundreds or thousands of miles away from family and friends and have no place to go for the holidays. If you’re near a military installation, reach out and offer your home to one or more military folks who might have no place else to go. And don’t forget about the spouses/children of deployed members also! The best way to do this is to contact either your local USO or the base’s Public Affairs office. Air Force installations usually have an Airman and Family Readiness Center that could also help and there are equivalent offices within the other branches as well.
6) Purge and donate-Most of us go through some sort of “Spring Cleaning” each year but the fall is the perfect time to go through your clothes, coats, blankets, shoes, etc and donate anything you no longer wear or need. Don’t forget baby blankets, clothes, and outgrown diapers as well! The weather is changing and those items will be much appreciated by someone who needs them more than our overflowing closets do!
7) Adopt a pet-Now this one isn’t for everybody, obviously. But if you’ve been considering adding a pet to your family anyway then why not now? If that’s not for you, then contact your local shelter to see what their most urgent needs are. They are almost always looking for donations of food, puppy pads, cat litter, etc.
8) Host a Friendsgiving-We did this last year and it was so much fun! We created an online donation page for a local charity, invited a dozen or so friends, and held a chili cook-off in our back yard. Other ideas besides a chili cook-off would be a classic pot-luck dinner or an Italian food night where your guests sign up to bring drinks, salad, bread, spaghetti, appetizers, etc. Since the food was mostly provided by the attendees (we provided the drinks and fixins), this can be a fairly inexpensive way to raise money for a good cause and fellowship with friends and family at the same time.
9) Sign up for Amazon Smile-This one is so easy and I just wish more people knew about it! Go to smile.amazon.com and select your preferred non-profit organization. Then, set your Amazon bookmark on your computer to always start at that page. Amazon will donate a portion of the proceeds of every order to your chosen organization! The product prices are the same, the prime shipping options are the same, it’s a no-brainer.
10) Create/donate to a Little Free Library-Have you seen these? How cute and how awesome are they, really?! These little libraries can be a wonderful resource for families who may not have a lot of books at home. You create (or purchase) the box, plant it in a busy place, and let folks borrow and add to it as they please. It’s entirely donation based, so if you happen to have a few extra books lying around that you no longer need, consider donating them to a local Little Free Library in your town! You can read all about the program here.
11) Donate blood or plasma-This literally only takes a bit of gas to get to the collection site and a few minutes of your time, but is LIFE-CHANGING for the person who needs it. Go here to find a donation location/event near you.
12) Offer to babysit a friend’s kids for a parents’ night out-Y’all, this one is HUGE. As parents, we rarely get out for a night all to ourselves; the kids are almost always in tow. And for folks who have multiple kids, or especially young kids, or kids with special needs, or just families who are on a budget, it’s nearly impossible. So, find that friend and offer to help. Do it at their house so the kids are disrupted as little as possible, can eat their own food, can go to bed in their own rooms and not have to be woken up just to go home, and so their parents can actually stay out until a reasonable adult-date-night-time. Those parents will be forever grateful and you might just receive your own date night in exchange!
So there you have it: 12 ways you and your family can connect with your community this Thanksgiving. If you’re local and looking for a way to get involved, there are a ton of amazing organizations in our community and here are a few to get you started:
Boerne Education Foundation
Boerne Family YMCA
Boerne Police Officers Association
Boerne Public Library Foundation
Christian Job Corps of Kendall County
Cibolo Nature Center
Friends of the Boerne Public Library
Hill Country Animal League
Hill Country CARES
Hill Country Daily Bread
Hill Country Family Services
Hill Country Pregnancy Care Center
Kendall County Women’s Shelter
Roy Maas Youth Alternatives
How does your family choose to stay connected with your community during the holidays? Do you manage to volunteer on a regular basis throughout the rest of the year as well? What are your kids favorite ways to get involved?
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