Saturday, November 17, 2007

Giving Back on a Day of Thanks

It will be Thanksgiving in less than a week, and it is my favorite holiday because it is all about gratitude and giving to those who need our help. We remember what we are so grateful for, and we make offerings, (often in the form of delicious food both to loved ones and also to those that we don't even know). I know from emailing with many of you that you will be volunteering your time at homeless shelters or soup kitchens this holiday. There is still plenty of time to plan a way to give back on this upcoming day of thanks.

Need inspiration? If you are interested in volunteering this holiday season, and have not yet found a place to do so, check out Volunteer Match. You can search by geographic location as well as areas of interest to find a volunteer opportunity that matches your skills. For more ideas, look at the thousands of volunteer opportunities on You can also inquire with your local community centers and churches to see when and where they will be serving meals and what help they need. You can often prepare meals or dishes the day before and drop them off Thanksgiving morning. Consider dropping by your local food bank on the way back from your holiday shopping to share a few items of food that will surely make someone else's Thanksgiving a bit easier and sweeter.

If you want your efforts to be felt a bit further afield, consider making a donation to the Vitamin Angels. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to "providing vital nutrition in the form of supplements, to developing countries, communities and individuals in need." For example, $1 provides enough Vitamin A to prevent blindness in a child. Just $1 provides sufficient funding to preserve the sight of one child. On a day when many of us have so much, it is important to remember that 30% of the world's population suffers from nutritional deficiencies.

As for me, I can take no credit for my plans this week; they are all the product of the generosity and ingenuity of my friends and teachers. Thanks to our dear friends in Seattle, we will be making our annual trek out West in a few days where we will stock up on local fare, (check out the Puget Sound eat local pledge here, and visit local to find your local and organic food purveyors). We will be cooking some dishes on Wednesday to drop off at the Plymouth Housing Group, whose mission is to "eliminate homelessness and stabilize homeless and very low income housing by preserving, developing, and operating, safe, decent, and affordable housing, and by providing opportunities for homeless and very low-income people to improve their lives." After dropping off our food at Plymouth on Thursday morning, I will go to the "Spirit of Gratitude" practice at Seattle Yoga Arts, the proceeds of which will be donated to Pasado's Safe Haven. Each of these upcoming celebratory moments will serve as reminders of how fortunate I am both to be with loved ones and to be of service to others.

Wishing you all a day filled with celebration, loved ones, and gifts of thanks.

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