6 Ways for You and Your Family to Give Back This Thanksgiving

For many, Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy turkey, parades, and football, but it can also be an extremely difficult time for families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Having to decide between paying the utility bills or seeing your kids go to bed hungry is a decision that no parent wants to make. Thanksgiving is just one day in November, but there are many ways you and your family can help others in need throughout the entire month. From donating items at a food drive to sponsoring a family’s Thanksgiving meal, every contribution makes a difference. We’ve come up with some great ideas to get you started.

1. Join Our Food Drive

Run an item drive or visit our Amazon Pantry Wish-List to help supply the food necessary for a family’s Thanksgiving fixins’. This is a quick and easy way to make a direct impact. Our Pick a Fixin’ goal is to fill over 6,500 Thanksgiving bags this year. All item drives must be completed and delivered by Monday, November 13, 2017.

2. Sponsor a Family’s Meal

Help feed 6,500 families this Thanksgiving when you donate directly to the Thanksgiving Project. Since 2009, the Thanksgiving Project has grown to support well over 25,000 people annually! As food costs continue to rise, funding remains our most critical need. “The Thanksgiving Project continues to grow year over year, which is a testament to the support of our donors and volunteers, but also shows how much need remains in our communities,” says Mike Durkin, President of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Consider making a donation in the name of someone you care about (hint: it would make a great hostess gift for Thanksgiving). In fact, 79% of people say they would rather have a charitable donation made in their honor than receive a gift they wouldn’t use. Donations will be accepted throughout November.

3. Give the Gift of Giving

Mark your calendars for November 28, Giving Tuesday. This nationwide movement unites us all in a day of generosity at the start of the busy holiday season. United Way is raising money to feed families in need of nutritious food. Make a donation on Giving Tuesday at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and we’ll double your gift. With your help, we can raise $20,000 for families in need in just one day.

4. Host a “Friendsgiving” to Benefit Others

Host a Friendsgiving either at the office potluck or at home anytime in November. Feast on turkey, stuffing and the works or be creative by having a wine and cheese night, pizza or tapas. Whatever you decide, make it count by sponsoring a local family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Set a goal for the number of families you would like to support – each meal costs only $50. An event with just 20 people will raise $1000 and feed 20 families. With your help, we can surpass our goal from last year, which raised enough money to provide a holiday meal to over 6,500 low-income families in more than 15 local communities.

5. Get Your Kids Involved

Use this time as an opportunity to speak with your children about how hunger and poverty affect other kids and families in your community – use real-life experiences that they can relate to. Need some pointers on how to frame a positive and effective conversation? We have tips to help you get started. Ask your kids how they would like to help this season. Offer suggestions like organizing a school fundraiser to sponsor families or start a food drive to fill grocery bags. And don’t forget to check out United Way’s Thankful Turkey Activity that you can do at home and our Volunteer HQ, which offers plenty of family volunteering ideas. When kids participate in activities that make a positive social impact, it inspires self-confidence, tolerance, and empathy so encourage your kids to share their experience at school! You can do this throughout November and anytime during the year.

6. Spread the Word

Join the movement by following @unitedwaymassbay on Facebook and @UnitedWayMaBay on Twitter. Share what you are most grateful for. Don’t forget to tag #UWthanksgiving #LiveUnited and @UnitedWayMaBay! Share your message with others throughout November. Family tip: This is a fun way for teens to get involved.

However you chose to give back this month, your spirit of generosity will make a big difference in the lives of others.