With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, homes across America are about to get enveloped in the cozy scents of mulled cider, roasting turkey and pumpkin pie. True to its name, Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks – for family, friends and, of course, all the delicious food. And like Shabbat, Thanksgiving offers a time to stop, relax and simply be with the ones we love.
But while it’s easy to get lost in the epic meal preparations, and equally epic turkey bowls unfolding in the backyard or a nearby park, there’s more to Thanksgiving than simply being thankful. The holiday offers the perfect opportunity to give back to others, and spread the good wishes beyond our own tables.
This year, add the spirit of service to your Thanksgiving table. Here are a few ideas to get you started – and we would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
- Consider the Tofurkey. Think about going vegetarian this Thanksgiving, or make sure the turkey you buy was humanely raised.
- Build a cornucopia. Invite guests to bring non-perishable foods (rice, pasta, tomato sauce, cereal, canned beans etc.) with them to dinner and collect them in a box by your door. After Thanksgiving, donate them to a local food pantry.
- Pass the tzedakah box, please. After the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts make their way around the table, pass around a tzedakah box. After the holiday, donate the money collected to a hunger organization like Mazon or an organization that supports Native American communities like NRC.
- Support Food Aid reform. Print out AJWS’s Food Aid petitions and ask your guests to support international food aid reform, which will make the food assistance we give to other countries safer and more effective.
- Skip the nap. Instead of curling into a tryptophan-induced sleep state, find a local Thanksgiving volunteer opportunity that will get you off the couch! Check in with your local Meals on Wheels chapter to see if they need volunteers to deliver meals to housebound people, or search Volunteer Match for ideas.
How will you add service to your Thanksgiving table? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting us at @repairtheworld.