Volunteering on Thanksgiving: Pay Your Thankfulness Forward

Showing gratitude around the holidays can be done in many ways, from telling our loved ones why we cherish them in our lives, to spending time helping those less fortunate by volunteering on Thanksgiving.  In fact, being grateful is actually beneficial to your health!  Research shows that counting our blessings and paying them forward can improve relationships, help us sleep better, boost our immune system and advance our general wellness.

Helping others by volunteering on Thanksgiving or performing small acts of kindness is what this holiday should be about.  We’ve come up with the top 8 ways you can pay your gratitude forward this year:

  • Volunteer at a Women and Children’s Shelter:  The bond between a mother and her children is universal.  Even women who are less fortunate or perhaps escaping domestic violence share the desire to give their children the best in life.  If your children are old enough, bring them with you to a shelter to serve a Thanksgiving meal, or read stories and do a fun craft with other moms and kids.
  • Save the Environment:  Our land, air and water should surely be on our list of things for which we are thankful.  Show your gratitude by cleaning up at a park or beach, planning a recycle program at your schools and community centers, starting an energy star campaign or planting trees in your area.  For more ways to volunteer for the environment, check out ideas from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
  • Donate Goods to Charity:  While we’re lounging around with family on Thanksgiving, we could spend an hour cleaning out our closets, cabinets and attics and collecting gently used items that we can donate to charitable resale shops like Goodwill.  These organizations not only support lower income families by providing quality items at affordable prices, but they also create jobs in the community.
  • Start a Canned Food Drive:  With a focus on food during Thanksgiving, use this holiday to collect non-perishables from neighbors for a food bank.  Put a letter in your neighbors’ mailbox the week before Thanksgiving letting them know your family will be collecting that day.  Then use the holiday to go door-to-door with your family to collect bags of food from your neighbors.  Not only are you stocking shelves at your food bank, but you’ll also get to personally wish your neighbors a Happy Thanksgiving.
  • Cheer for Our Troops:  Many of our troops get to come home for Thanksgiving, and some will be traveling on Turkey Day itself.  Take an hour to greet arriving troops at your airport and applaud them as they are welcomed home by their families.  If you don’t live near an airport, make cards and care packages for our troops.
  • Visit a Hospital:  Visiting patients in the hospital on Thanksgiving may be one of the most rewarding ways you can give back.  If your children are old enough, bring them along.  Elderly patients love seeing playful children, and sick kids would welcome a friendly playmate as long as everyone is healthy enough to be around one another.  Bring homemade cards and prepare a song or two to spread the cheer.
  • Give Blood:  At some point in our lives, you or someone you care about will need to receive blood.  Be proactive and give blood now.  With a prick and a few minutes, you can save lives.
  • Volunteer at an Animal Shelter:  Spending a day caring for pets in a shelter will be a fun and fulfilling activity for your entire family.  Perhaps more than anyone else, animals may be the most grateful of all for your time and support.

May your holiday be warmer, your gratitude deeper and your smile be brighter by volunteering this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, Leading Ladies!

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