As Thanksgiving approaches in Canada, I can’t help but reflect on what this time of year means. In a word – gratitude. Often where there is gratitude, there is an increased desire to share our fortune with others that may not be able to afford the same basic needs. We may choose to provide gifts, time, or donations to people and causes we care about. The questions become, what are we giving, to whom, and why?
Giving at Thanksgiving – and spread the gratitude
A colleague of mine was sharing that her daughter, son, and ex-husband delivered Thanksgiving dinner to single mother and her children. They brought a turkey, all the fixings, and presents for the kids. An initiative organized by a community charity. After the daughter returned home, she felt unsatisfied. A matter of fact, she felt empty and awkward as she felt like she was imposing on the family’s privacy. As it turned out, something was missing for this teenage girl, and it appeared to be the feeling of selflessness.
She realized this gift of ‘Thanksgiving dinner’ was not about the receiver, but rather the givers. It was about her and her family feeling good about contributing to someone else’s holiday.
This act was more about the messenger than the mission.
It takes courage to ask for help, and in doing so, the mother was able to provide for her family. Regardless of how the children received the generosity, they would have felt gratitude. If the mother, however, were able to give the donated meal to the children, she would have felt a double dose of gratitude. The mother’s ego could have been protected; the giver would have still felt like they were contributing, and most importantly, the children would have been fed.
Although we often have the best intentions, sometimes our contributions are more about the messenger than the mission. What if the generosity of the charity made the mother look like the hero, rather then the strangers?
There are arguments on both sides of who delivers the goods. With the strangers providing the gifts, the children learn about other people’s kindness and generosity. But could it not also perpetuate dependence on this very kindness?
This Thanksgiving consciously contribute
There are many ways to consciously contribute at Thanksgiving to empowering the receiver while spreading gratitude.There are many ways to consciously contribute at Thanksgiving to empowering the receiver while spreading gratitude. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet
1. Host a dinner: Invite people that may be alone at Thanksgiving
2. Have a community gathering. Great opportunity to build community. Many municipalities will provide permits for a street closure.
3. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or local Church. It is important to note that there is an influx of volunteers during the holidays, and the need is all year. Often volunteer opportunities are given to those that commit for a longer term. But, perhaps the soup kitchen near you could use a helping hand.
4. Visit a retirement home: Often the elderly don’t have family nearby and would appreciate someone to talk to for a little while. Perhaps bring a pie, and they can share with some of their fellow residences.
5. Donate to a children’s breakfast club: Provide children with a healthy start before going to school https://breakfastclubs.ca/how-you-can-help/
6. Donate to a food bank: Food Banks help more than 850,000 Canadians every month; the demand remains high. Unfortunately, there are food banks that are struggling right now to raise enough food and funds to assist the people they serve. https://www.foodbankscanada.ca/Get-Involved/Support-Your-Local-Food-Bank.aspx. Another great idea is to donate funds to the food bank because they have more purchasing power than the average consumer. For that one box of KD that you would donate, the food bank could have bought three. Also, they will have the flexibility to buy more healthy food alternatives (no offences KD.)
Want to feel more connected to the cause? Donate your time. Or participate in the #OneBagChallenge An idea that initially began in Kelowna, and has gradually spread across Canada. The concept is to donate a bag of items to your local food bank and challenge your friends and family to do the same. You can even post the picture on social media and tag the people you choose to nominate to spread the love.#OneBagChallenge - donate a bag of items to your local food bank and challenge your friends and family to do the same. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet
7. Provide food for a local Women’s Shelter: Women and children that have experienced violence may have left their home with little more than the clothes on their back. Many of these shelters would welcome the generosity of strangers.This Thanksgiving Provide food for a local Women’s Shelter. Learn 13 more ideas to consciously contribute this Thanksgiving. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet
8. Make a dinner reservation: Love this idea, when local businesses create an experience for people to contribute to a worthy cause. All you need to do is make a dinner reservation at a participating restaurant across Canada on October 17, 2018, and go out to eat that night. The restaurant will donate from 50% to 100% of total food sales from dinner service to support community food programs in low-income neighbourhoods. Voilà! That’s how you dine out to do good. To find a participating restaurant near you visit: http://restaurantsforchange.ca/reserve-today/Go out to eat at participating restaurants Across Canada on October 17, 2018. Restaurants will donate from 50% to 100% of total food sales from dinner service to support community food programs in low-income neighbourhoods. Learn… Click To Tweet
9. Donate blood. Giving life is the best gift you can give. Donate before Thanksgiving as Blood services often have a dip in donations during long-weekends. Unfortunately that there is no dip in need. Check out who you can help this Thanksgiving https://blood.ca/en/blood/who-does-my-donation-help
10. Help the elderly stay healthy. Volunteer for one of the meals on wheels delivery programs. There are many volunteer opportunities. http://von.ca/volunteer
11. Animal person? Spend time at the human society volunteering or an animal shelter. Think about it, no family member provoking you. This could be your best Thanksgiving yet!
12. Have dinner with your extended family. Yes, the family that has tension escalate every time you are together. Talk about your grandparents, happy childhood memories, or your crazy Uncle Ned. Your children may wish they knew more about how you grew up and the fun interactions with your siblings. Fun stories for all ages that will last a lifetime.
13. What do with all those leftovers? Contact Second Harvest, they rescue and deliver fresh, surplus food to feed people experiencing hunger. The Thanksgiving that keeps on giving.What do with all those leftovers this Thanksgiving? Contact Second Harvest, they rescue and deliver fresh, surplus food to feed people experiencing hunger. #MyContributionCounts #YouMeWeMovement Click To Tweet
Bonus: Whatever you choose to do for Thanksgiving to contribute to someone else, post it on the #MyContributionCounts page of the YouMeWe Group website and your contribution will count TWICE! YouMeWe will invest $1 for every contribution listed in a woman’s education or business to help her out of poverty to prosperity. https://youmewe.ca/my-contribution-counts-2/
However you decide to give this Thanksgiving, remember it is not that we shouldn’t contribute, it is how to contribute that will provide the most impact, appreciation and feeling of gratitude.
In the case of our Thanksgiving story, could gratitude have been more magical for the receivers if the mother was the messenger? Then the mission would have been accomplished.
Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving! And I’m grateful for you joining me on weWednesdays.
Until next time, make your contributions count!
Special note: The Daily Bread Food bank in Toronto is in desperate need for dollars and food donations.
Consider how to make your contribution count
- What can you provide this Thanksgiving to stimulate gratitude?
- What are you most grateful for and how can you share that gratitude?
- How can you collaborate with others to contribute to a worthwhile cause?