Giving Thanks – and a Nice Meal – Brings Meaning to the Thanksgiving Holiday

You can teach children and grandchildren the importance of charity. You can instill in them concern for those less fortunate.

You can tell them over and over again how lucky they are to have everything they need to eat. Especially when your family gathers around the Thanksgiving table.

But there is nothing that will get through to them like an example. Such as seeing you reach out and help the hungry in your community.

Two young sisters saw selflessness being lived out in front of them. Now they're making a big difference in other people's lives.

Young Sisters Feed the Needy Again

Since 2017, Alex, now 9, and her sister, Caroline, now 6, have been on a mission. They wanted to make sure folks in their North Carolina community had a Thanksgiving dinner.

So, they helped raise enough funds for 130 boxes of food and 50 turkeys that first year. This year, they've raised close to $3,000 of food.

That was enough to fill 108 boxes with Thanksgiving meal staples, as well as to get 108 turkeys.

They may not fully understand the impact of their efforts yet. But their mother says, "They just know this means a lot of people will be able to have Thanksgiving dinner."

Amping It Up

The girls' mom told CNN that when the girls first started doing this, she suggested they fill one box with food.

"Alex said that wasn't enough and that we should do 10 boxes." Mom explained they'd need financial help for that. So the girls sold lemonade and baked goods at a stand.

The family also set up a GoFundMe account. Suddenly it wasn't just family, friends and neighbors who were contributing.

The mom said it went so well the first year that they decided to make it a family tradition going forward.

From Idea to Store to Mission

The family begins collecting funds for food in late September. They then go to the local supermarket to get the food.

The next stop is the Charlotte Rescue Mission's headquarters. It's a nonprofit group that provides services for people struggling with addiction.

The mission holds an annual Thanksgiving food drive that helps the needy in their community.

Local residents who need food are the obvious beneficiaries of the family's hard efforts and generosity. But so are two young girls. They've learned early in life how much better it is to give than to receive.

Bob Evans Restaurants Chip In

Bob Evans Restaurants have long been known for their "down on the farm" food. They are also known for their generosity.

This year, the chain is donating 100 "Farmhouse Feast" meals to food banks in time for Thanksgiving. The company's donations match their customers' orders.

Each Farmhouse Feast is fully cooked and ready to heat and serve. It feeds eight to 10 people. It includes turkey, ham, mashed potatoes pumpkin pie and much more.

Bob Holtcamp is the chief marketing officer for Bob Evans. He said, "We serve Thanksgiving meals all year, so... our brand is synonymous with the holiday."

Food Pantries Need Volunteers

After I hear what others are doing to make Thanksgiving more enjoyable for the needy, I like to think about what I can do as well.

As it turns out, there are plenty of options from which to choose. One is volunteering time at a food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen in your community.

It could involve helping to assemble Thanksgiving meal boxes. Or assisting families during their visit to the location.

Or it might mean cooking or serving food at a Thanksgiving dinner there. Or delivering meals to the elderly or those with health or mobility problems.

Cash Works Too

If you have more funds than time – or you're physically unable to assist – just about all charitable groups take monetary donations.

Among them are Feeding America and Meals on Wheels. As well as Action Against Hunger and Food for the Hungry.

It's always a good idea to research a charity before you send your donations to them.

Some charities shell out an awful lot to their CEOs. Others use only a small percentage of donations to help people in need. So it's best to make sure your funds are going to a mindful group.

Food Donation Ideas

If you're planning to donate food to a local food bank before Thanksgiving Day, first find out what they're looking for.

But as a general rule, you can't go wrong with these types of items to name a few:

Jars of turkey gravy or dried gravy mix, instant mashed potatoes, boxed stuffing mix or mac n' cheese, cranberry sauce, canned vegetables or soups, cornbread mix, vegetable oil, sugar rice, aluminum foil, and cutlery.

Whatever you decide to do for those less fortunate, you'll never regret making someone's Thanksgiving Day a day to remember.


  • Kevin Luce - January 30, 2020

    Many cancer centers have food banks as well. People being treated sometimes have to choose between eating, paying a bill, or receiving treatment. Call around and find out which centers in your area have a food pantry, then see what you can do to help fill it.

  • Ron - January 30, 2020

    Just wanted to commend and thank you for taking the time to remind folks about the importance of giving to others in need. In my case I worked in the mental health field for 16 years as well as volunteering in this area as well. I have seen first hand government closing mental health facilities in the name of “normalization” while the real reason appeared to be more of a cost savings measure. The savings did not follow the patients into the community and many were left homeless and without the ability or services to adequately care for themselves. These people are often those ignored or worse confronted by authorities who have little or no training in dealing with them. I hope we can all find it in our hearts to give to those in need all year long as best we can.

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