Give thanks and give back

The smell of a juicy roast turkey and green bean casserole fills the air;  Thanksgiving is around the corner.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection on what you’re most thankful for and a day to spend with family and friends. However, instead of showing your gratitude by gorging yourself on cornbread, stuffing and creamy mashed potatoes, why not spend your Thanksgiving by lending a hand to someone less fortunate? Whether you are on your own or have your family with you, there are plenty of local opportunities to give back to the community this fall.

Participate in a food drive

This is one of the simplest things you can do to help others. All you really have to do is gather as many canned goods and non-perishable foods you can carry and drop them off at a designated pick-up area. Countless organizations are holding food drives this time of year. Food banks by Feeding America are located all over Broward and Miami counties and are always accepting donations. Visit feedingamerica.org to learn more.

Deliver meals

Many families want to have a traditional meal this holiday but simply can’t afford to purchase everything they need. Help them out by delivering a fresh turkey with all the trimmings to their door. Meals on Wheels is a nationwide program that focuses on delivering meals to needy families, including those in South Florida. When you participate in this program, you’ll join with others in your area who want to volunteer and deliver meals that have been put together with the non-perishable food items and turkeys donated in food drives. For more information about Meals and Wheels, visit bmow.org.

Feed the homeless

Feeding the homeless is perhaps one of the most well-known ways to give back on Thanksgiving. Not only does it allow you to provide a Thanksgiving meal to those who need it most, but it also gives you a new perspective on being grateful for what you have. Volunteering at a local food pantry or shelter will also help out those who work and regularly volunteer at these organizations, as they would be shorthanded with the crowds on Thanksgiving Day.

One food-serving opportunity that is close to NSU is the Broward Outreach Center/Miami Rescue Mission. For information on how you can sign up to volunteer, contact the Hollywood center at 954-620-4017, or visit their website miamirescuemission.com/boc.htm.

Local Salvation Army stores also have events each year to feed those in need. To serve at the Salvation Army, sign up on their website satruck.org.

Invite someone into your home

Do you know someone who’s having a hard time financially and won’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Is there a friend who lives thousands of miles from their family and will be spending the holiday alone? Whatever the situation, inviting someone to share in your festivities is a great way to show your appreciation of your relationship with them. Feel free to open your home to anyone you might know who would like to have a Thanksgiving meal.

Visit those without a family

Those who live in hospitals and retirement homes don’t have any family to be with this time of year. You might not know them personally, but visiting those who are alone during the holidays will make them feel loved and appreciated. Just a little bit of time can go a long way with these visits. Retirement homes and local children’s hospitals are great options to spend time with people who’d like the company. Each hospital and nursing home has different policies when it comes to volunteering, so make sure you contact them before showing up.

Don’t drop everything after the holidays

Just because Thanksgiving has come to an end doesn’t mean your service has to. There are always people in need and always opportunities to help the community. Continue doing good well after the holidays are over, and you’ll feel a greater sense of gratitude that is not even close to being rivaled with feasting on ridiculous amounts of food.

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