World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Thanksgiving Prompts Americans To Help Communities

Thanksgiving Prompts Americans To Help Their Communities

On Thanksgiving Day, when most Americans enjoy a holiday meal with friends and family and give thanks for the good things in their lives, many also take time to prepare and serve meals to the needy. Others donate to food drives, work at food warehouses or deliver groceries to soup kitchens, churches and other charitable groups.

"As we count our many blessings, I encourage all Americans to show their thanks by giving back," President Bush said November 19 during a speech at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia, where in 1619 English settlers offered up thanks for their safe passage across the Atlantic.

Bush took note of Berkeley Plantation's claim to be the site of America's first Thanksgiving, but he added -- to laughter from the crowd -- that "this version of events is not very popular up north." Both the Berkeley Plantation and the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts lay claim to the first official Thanksgiving.

"I've come to honor Berkeley's history -- and to continue the great American tradition of giving thanks," the president said diplomatically.

Earlier in the day, Bush spent time helping volunteers pack boxes of groceries at the Central Virginia Foodbank in Richmond, Virginia. The food bank provides donated food to more than 500 charitable agencies in central Virginia that prepare thousands of meals for the poor each day.

At Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, many Americans make a special effort to volunteer at shelters, churches, food banks and other charitable organizations.

For example, in Santa Monica , California, people donate uncooked turkeys or volunteer their ovens to roast a turkey the night before Thanksgiving. In 2006, some 300 turkeys were transformed into more than 2,100 hot meals for the needy and distributed at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Blankets and clothing also were distributed, and free haircuts were available for people who wanted them.

In St. Mary's County, Maryland, the local government has sponsored a charity golf day on Thanksgiving for the past seven years, when golfers donate bags of nonperishable food and household items for a local food bank. In 2006, more than 2,000 items were collected.

And The Woodlands High School basketball teams in The Woodlands, Texas, are holding a pre-Thanksgiving food drive where the teams compete to see who can bring in the most food, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Montana Food Bank Network Executive Director Peggy Grimes directs volunteers at a food distribution event. (Montana Food Bank Network)Peggy Grimes, executive director of the Montana Food Bank Network in Missoula, Montana, which provides food to 189 charitable agencies throughout the state, says volunteers and food donations especially are needed during Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.

The food bank will distribute 20 percent more food this holiday season than in 2006 -- in part because the rising cost of gasoline eats away at people's disposable income, Grimes said. "We're seeing more people coming through the emergency food system, especially with this hike in gas prices."

"The amount of food going out this year is just amazing," she told USINFO. "Our donations for the holiday season are up as well. Normally, we might get a few hundred turkeys, and this year we've already gotten 400."

The Montana Food Bank Network is partner of America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest charitable hunger relief organization. (See related article.)

Each day, about 20 to 25 volunteers work for the Montana food bank. "We have a huge group of college students coming tomorrow to help us sort food and get our orders ready," Grimes said. Secondary school and grade school students often help too, she added, as well as senior citizens, church groups and individuals.

People who want to actually serve meals or distribute food baskets are directed to charitable groups that do that, Grimes said. For a soup kitchen that is serving a big meal at Thanksgiving, "you need so many more volunteers," she said.

"Each year, I notice that there are more and more people who say, 'We can put off our [Thanksgiving] dinner, we can have it the next day or take out a two-hour block of time and go volunteer,'" Grimes said. "The whole family will do it and then go home and have their meal."

Grimes said the food bank is so busy during the holiday season that she puts aside her work as executive director and is "out there helping to put these pallets of food together myself. I get to join in. I love that."


More: Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Covid: 250 Groups Urge WTO Chief To Ditch Pharma-Friendly Approach And Embrace Vaccine Patent Waiver

by Jake Johnson, staff writer An international coalition of 250 civil society groups on Tuesday urged the head of the World Trade Organization to embrace a temporary suspension of coronavirus vaccine-related patents, warning against pursuit of a voluntary ... More>>

Samoa’s Stunning Election Result: On The Verge Of A New Ruling Party For The First Time In 40 Years

Tamasailau Suaalii Sauni , University of Auckland and Patricia A. O'Brien , Georgetown University Samoan politics is on a knife edge. After the country voted in general elections on April 9, counting so far has resulted in a dead heat between the two ... More>>

Timor-Leste: UN Agencies Support Response In Wake Of Deadly Floods

United Nations agencies in Timor-Leste are supporting response efforts, as floods and landslides left widespread damage across the country, including in the capital, Dili. According to media reports, at least 21 people died in the country and many ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Awake At Night: S3-Episode 21: There Is Hope

Brazzaville visit to CSI Pilote du Diabete with Health workers at a local government clinic. 2018 - Photo: ©CSI/Dr. Soumya Swaminathan 'When it comes to a pandemic, it really needs global collaboration and solidarity because the pathogens and viruses More>>

UN: Growing Calls For Revamping Development Financing To Ensure Sustainable Global Recovery From COVID-19 Pandemic

Forum to highlight new initiatives to tackle inequalities exacerbated by pandemic With many economies reeling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as inequalities continue to widen, world leaders will discuss options to unlock concrete investments ... More>>

How Can We Vaccinate The World? Five Challenges Facing The UN-Backed COVAX Programme

The aim of the UN-backed COVAX scheme is to get two billion vaccine doses into the arms of around a quarter of the population of poorer countries by the end of 2021. What are the main challenges that need to be overcome, if this historic global effort ... More>>