Do More! Volunteer This Thanksgiving!

Do More! Volunteer This Thanksgiving!
by Jennifer LB Leese
j.leese@picketnews.com

Give back to your community.
Thanksgiving is a holiday we look forward to. Our friends and family gather, anxious to spend the day telling stories from Thanksgivings long ago, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning and your favorite football team in the afternoon, taking in the smells and ambiance of the season, and just hanging out - together.
In the tradition, we seem more appreciative and understanding. We acknowledge our good health and share these moments of gratitude with our loved ones. Our busy lives sometimes keep many of us from appreciating what the one day of Thanksgiving allows us to have. In the mix of our daily routines, we often forget about those with no families...no one to celebrate the holiday with or those who don't have a home to celebrate the holiday in...or even those that just can't afford it.
Other than Thanksgiving meaning eating too much turkey, watching too much football, or preparing to shop on Black Friday; it is also the season in which most people start thinking about volunteering.
Thanksgiving began as a harvest celebration and is intended as a day for families to get together and reflect on their good fortune. It is THE day when we are thankful for our blessings and when we think of those less fortunate. The urge to get up and do something - volunteer at a soup kitchen or hand out winter clothing, blankets, and jackets to the homeless - is strong this time of year.
Volunteering is one of the best things we can do for our community.
Places like the Salvation Army, sponsor Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Rescue missions and soup kitchens give free meals to those who can't afford it. Some organizations offer meals for as little as a quarter.
It's quite simple if you think about it...these places just want to help make someone else's holiday a little brighter. They always in need of help in preparing, cooking, sorting, and cleaning the food and getting ready for the hundreds, maybe thousands of people who will be standing on their doorstep on Thanksgiving morning.
Everyone deserves a hot meal. Thanksgiving to me wouldn't be Thanksgiving if I didn't have my family and friends to share it with as we give our thanks around a table weighed down with turkey, biscuits, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn pudding, honey carrots, stuffing, and of course...pumpkin pie.
Take a few hours and volunteer today. Offer to pick up donations, set up tables, prepare food, clean up, sort, package and deliver holidays meals...there's something for every volunteer.
There's a lot that we can do. Don't think of it as saving the world - think of it as simply being a good person. You'll surely sleep better Thanksgiving night...and so will the family you personally dished food out to. They'll remember you and be thankful for you giving them a Thanksgiving to remember.
After all, isn't that what this season is all about?
Although this article is mainly about volunteering for the Thanksgiving holiday, charitable organizations need your help all year long.
Organizations like United Way and Red Cross list opportunities on their websites, but there are also several volunteer matching websites that list organizations requesting volunteer help (specific to your zip code). A few of these sites include: www.volunteermatch.org and volunteerfriends.org. You can call area rescue missions and food banks and ask them specifically what they are looking for or call Social Services and ask for a list of soup kitchens as well. That's the good thing about volunteering...there are more than enough organizations that need your help - finding the volunteers is the problem.
If you're not sure where to start...here's a few (of the many) area organizations that need your help:
Reach Caregivers- 301-733-2371
Salvation Army- 301-733-2440
American Red Cross- 301-739-0717
United Way of Washington County- 301-739-8200
Maryland Food Bank- 301-733-4002 (currently looking for food sorters)
Hospice of Washington County- 301-791-6360
Western Maryland Hospital- 301-791-4400
Washington County Hospital- 301-790-8143
Hagerstown Rescue Mission- 301-739-1114