Providing food for families on Thanksgiving


6 Inspiring Ways to Feed Needy Families on Thanksgiving

by April Peveteaux – Food & Party

The past few years have been a struggle for many, many, many people. As we head into the holidays, it highlights the inequity and makes your heart break for families who cannot even get the $50 to pull together a Thanksgiving dinner on their own. When your situation has gotten so tough that putting food on the table isn’t a given, it can be incredibly difficult to figure out what you’re thankful for, exactly.

Our own Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, is on a personal mission to feed families this year by matching up donors with those in need. She’s collecting money to buy grocery store gift cards for people who stop by (and there have been a lot of them) and let her know their struggles include not being able to afford Thanksgiving dinner. Yeah, you guys, it’s heartbreaking.

Whether you join Jill in her effort or are looking for another way to give back for the holiday, here are 5 more ways to feed those in need you should consider.

God’s Love We Deliver

A non-stop mission to feed the hungry, New York’s God’s Love We Deliver sends out over a million nutritious meals every year. There are special volunteer opportunities on Thanksgiving where you can make sure people who can’t get out of their homes can still get a hot meal. I volunteered one year and it was incredibly satisfying to get to know people who are so grateful for your help. You can also donate if you’re not in the area.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s The Big Give

My family will be putting together baskets of Thanksgiving dinners to help feed 4,000 Los Angeles families in need this Thanksgiving. If you can’t be in the LA area for the event, just one $25 donation will buy a meal for a family of four.

Homeless Shelters

Volunteering at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving is a sobering experience. Not only will you realize just how fortunate you are, you can gain perspective on how big this problem is in your local community as you serve up turkey dinner. And then do something about it every other day of the year.

Food Banks

Something you can do right now, today, is to pick up some extra food at your grocery store and drive it straight over to your local food bank. The food banks have been short this year on supplies, and this time of year, it’s even more welcome.

Your Local Church/Synagogue/Mosque

Most religious institutions have programs set up to help those in need on Thanksgiving. If you haven’t heard what yours is doing, find out. If they aren’t participating, set up a program to feed the hungry in your neighborhood.

Are you helping others this Thanksgiving?

Washington Township middle school students give about 100 local needy families a personalized Thanksgiving gift

WASHINGTON TWP. – By Phil Davis/South Jersey Times — Middle school students from all around the township — and teachers alike — were hustling and bustling at Orchard Valley Middle School on Wednesday to make some local families’ Thanksgiving a bit more festive.

At the cafeteria, students from Orchard Valley, Chestnut Ridge and Bunker Hill middle schools worked frantically to sort and package mounds of donated packaged food and a personalized turkey for about 100 families for their Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.

Kids were busy running back and forth organizing baskets, while volunteers waited to donate the personalized gifts to each family to be ready in time for Thanksgiving.

According to Eileen Lucarini, a member of the Changing Our World organization that worked with the Future Acts club, the Washington Township Education Association and the Washington Township Rotary Club to organize the food drive, the schools received a list of local residents in need of some assistance to have a happy Thanksgiving.

For Lucarini, having the students work alongside parents and teachers is a special way to differentiate from normal food drives.

“The thing about it is rather than just donating, the kids work,” said Lucarini. “I like the fact that you have adults and kids working side by side.”

Orchard Valley has been running the drive and organizing baskets for years, but the township’s efforts have stepped up with both Bunker Hill and Chestnut Ridge joining the cause.

And giving local children the chance to give back to the community is something that Board of Education member Kurt Snyder appreciates about the day.

“It’s a way to give these middle schoolers a chance to see what community service is like,” said Snyder. “It gives them a chance of ownership for the township.”

Kim Hinrichs, the advisor for the Future Acts club, said watching students package up 130 turkeys and a number of canned foods for a few lucky families is a lesson that couldn’t be taught with a textbook.

“So the idea is for it to be about sharing and working together,” said Hinrichs. “As an educator, this is our goal.”

“This is not something you can teach in the classroom,” she added.

They also promoted the idea of teamwork by eliminating any amount of competition, not telling the students which school had managed to donate the most food to the cause.

Hinrichs also said that the food drive was able to donate 10 trash cans worth of food that wasn’t Thanksgiving-themed to Mother’s Cupboard, a local food pantry in Washington Township.

For Snyder, while having the food drive to deliver to needy families is always something he wants to see, being able to personalize the day by giving back to community residents in needs is something that he hopes will resonate with the kids.

“It’s not like it’s a blind donation. They know that someone is going to have a great Thanksgiving,” said Snyder.

And it’s a sentiment shared by Hinrichs as well.

“These are people who we see and walk with on a daily basis,” said Hinrichs to the room of over 50 students. “We know these people so we know about what they need.”

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