On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to aid in collecting food for Long Island Harvest, alongside many other members of The Giving Tree Family, a student-run and student-led charity organization.
Each of us was outside nearby supermarkets, taking any canned donations people brought to us and putting monetary donations toward more food.
Throughout the afternoon, The Giving Tree Family collected 1,300 food items, plus an additional $400 in cash.
While conceptually simple, the Island Harvest program always gives me a sense of pride and gratitude every year when I help out. This feeling is only amplified through the fact that I work alongside other students my age in The Giving Tree Family.
Throughout our hectic lives as students, it’s very easy to lose appreciation of the family time and meals we enjoy during Thanksgiving and other times of year.
The number of people who live near us and either do not have food for a proper Thanksgiving dinner, or do not have family to spend time with, is much higher than any of us would like to think. So, personally, I feel that taking time out of my day to help collect food for those who deserve to have a family gathering and dinner is just a small way I can help.
At the end of the day, it does not require huge actions from a few people to help those around us, but the collective efforts of everyone.
For me, this action is collecting food for the less fortunate every year. But, these actions do not necessarily have to be based around monetary or physical things.
Experiences during times of happiness are equally as important as the material things we all share. This means that organizing group gatherings for people you know may appreciate being at one is also an important gesture of kindness.
By expanding our Thanksgiving actions from family time to helping those we don’t know as well, we are effectively creating a more welcoming, equal community for everyone.