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Giving Thanks Forward

Hello Friends,

It has been crazy and insane of late, and I apologize for the long delay of my posts. Thanks for still coming around to see me, as well, everyone!

So tomorrow, Thursday 11/21, is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA. The day of Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Pumpkin Pie. The day where family comes together and gives thanks for each other, and all the blessings that have befallen throughout the year. 

In our family, we have a strong tradition that we follow every year: get as many people to gather as we can. When I was in college, my parents started coming down to my place here in Charlotte and having Thanksgiving with, as they called us, “Beth and her band of misfits”. I would basically invite anyone and everyone that didn’t have a place to go or just wanted to come over; and they’d swing in for dinner or dessert times as they could throughout the day.

I think the maximum we ever had come through was 20 for dinner throughout the day, and 20 more for dessert. Pretty sure the fire department would’ve had a problem with the capacity, but hey – it was rotating and fun, and nothing caught on fire!

However having such a great family and friend base that I can treasure the holidays with each year, it makes me really want to give back to those who struggle through the holidays. Honestly that is what started me inviting all of my Thanksgiving Feast-less friends over!

I have recently found quite a few great programs through the holidays that allow me to give thanks and use my blessings to pay it forward for others less fortunate. I wanted to share. None of the “21 days of thanks” or anything – just a concise list (with links of course) for those who care to go further.

My #1 all-time favorite non-profit is Operation Homefront of NC (OHF-NC).

I do a ton of volunteering and donating through them year-round, and consider them a great cause. During the holidays, Operation Homefronts Nationwide participate in Adopt-A-Family programs where sponsors (i.e. individuals, families, businesses, coworkers) adopt a family for the holidays. Each regional OHF office does their own twist on this program, depending upon the needs of their area. Click the region you want for details on their program: the Carolinas, Central Great Lakes (MI, IN, OH), DC Metro, Kansas, Tennessee/Kentucky, Texas, Tri-State (NY, NJ, CT), and Washington State. I have done this with my family, and we’re doing it at work as well to adopt a family as a team. So definitely a great cause I get behind fully!

#2 great cause I’ve found is A Child’s Place, though it is somewhat specific to Mecklenberg County (Charlotte area) in NC.

This Holiday season, they are asking for people to sponsor families through their Holiday Sponsorship program, where you’ll receive the name, age, size and wish list for each family member (1 or more) and purchase a new outfit and one item from the wish list for that person. In addition, you are asked to buy a grocery store gift card for the family member to use toward a holiday meal. Cost Estimate: $75 per family member.

Cause #3a is for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.

While you can always drop off food donations to one of their locations (unopened, non-glass, non-babyfood, non-perishable food items only, please), they also offer food drives and initiatives through local groceries like Whole Foods and Harris Teeter throughout the year. In addition, they have an event coming up December 16 (Sunday), 2012, for a fundraiser with SHFB as the beneficiary, with a music back-drop: Music 4 Food Concert & Revue, which will be hosted at CPCC’s Halton Theater.

Good Cause#3b is for non-Metrolina-area food bank options, via Feeding America‘s site.

Good Cause #4 is The Salvation Army, another of my personal favorites to support around the Holidays! Links below are for Metro Charlotte area, and each local chapter should have similar links to each of the giving areas.

a) Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree – sponsors chose an Angel from a local tree and buy new items from the ‘wish list’ of the child they have chosen. Drop-offs are at locations throughout the community like FOX Charlotte News Studio, or at the Salvation Army Chrismas Center (for Charlotte, click here). 
b) Salvation Army Stockings – chose a stocking and fill it with a host of toys and activities for a child and age of choice (the stockings are labelled by gender and age). Drop-offs are at the Salvation Army Christmas Center, or at community drop-offs like K104.7 Studios.
c) Salvation Army Silver Bells – chose a senior citizen (age 60+) to adopt and buy for, needed items like clothing, toiletries, shoes and other small gifts. Drop-offs are at the Salvation Army Christmas Center.
d) Salvation Army Red Kettles – volunteers ring the bells outside establishments to raise funds for the Christmas programs. From their site, “The traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless, in keeping with the spirit of the season.”

There are lots of other great opportunities to help out in areas all across the country and the world. Search engines are great tools to find them, however I sincerely hope that I was able to provide some good information for you as well if you’re interested in doing something like this for the 2012 Holidays!

May your Holidays be plentiful and full of love, friends, family and good food, and may those in need find sponsors and donors to help them through the tough times and eventually make it ‘back’ enough to pay it forward to someone else in need!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Winter Holidays Everyone!

Craft You Later,
Beth

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