November 27, 2019

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving: 5 Humanitarian Organizations Honoring Turkey Day the Right Way

Rai Cornell

Family. Football. Feast. The three "F's" of Thanksgiving. After the traditional holiday dinner, we could add "full" to the list as our belt discovers another notch. Yet for too many, the day isn't full of good things.

Thankfully, there are numerous humanitarian organizations working to add joy and fulfillment to the lives of others during the season of thanks and throughout the entire year.

Reel Paper The True Meaning of Thanksgiving: 5 Humanitarian Organizations Honoring Turkey Day the Right Way

As you are celebrating the holiday season, be sure to give thanks for what you have and who you have in your life. If you’re able, consider supporting one of these incredible charities during the Thanksgiving season.

Here are some humanitarian organizations doing their best to honor the day by helping those in need.

Humanitarian Organizations Feeding The Hungry

For 17 years, FeedingNYC has been delivering boxes of food to homeless shelters. Partnering with local charities and shelters, the food is a tremendous blessing to people in need. A single $35 donation pays for one box containing everything needed for a full Thanksgiving dinner. Since their inception, FeedingNYC has delivered over 70,000 boxes to families in need.

Elsewhere in the country, Operation Turkey is working towards a goal of giving away 75,000 turkeys this Thanksgiving. An organization run entirely by volunteers (there’s not a single paid employee!), Operation Turkey is proof that great movements begin with a single action.

In 2000, Richard Bagdonas handed out one meal to a homeless gentleman in a wheelchair on 6th Street in Austin, Texas. “He couldn’t thank me because he was mentally challenged, but the homeless guy next to him said ‘thank you’ and helped feed the meal to the man,” Bagdonas says. “Afterwards I sat in my car and cried, and I knew I wanted to do something about it.”

From that single act of kindness 19 years ago, Operation Turkey has grown to over 30,000 volunteers in 22 cities and 7 states.

No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry is a national campaign to end hunger. A program run by the "Share Our Strength” charity, it's among humanitarian organizations working to fight hunger year round through school lunches and food pantries.

The organization also uses education programs to teach kids how to wisely shop for nutritious food and offers cooking classes to teach meal preparation.

No Kid Hungry honors Thanksgiving by encouraging people to host "Friendsgiving Dinners.” No Kid Hungry’s version of “Friendsgiving” is more than just pals getting together to enjoy a feast. These events are often scheduled with the agreement that each attendee will make a $100 donation to No Kid Hungry, which can feed one child 1,000 meals.

Honoring Our Heroes

Actor Gary Sinise – who played "Lt. Dan" in the award-winning film "Forest Gump” – has a passion for honoring those who defend our country.

"Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted,” says Sinise. “We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation's defenders, we can always do a little more."

Reel Paper The True Meaning of Thanksgiving: 5 Humanitarian Organizations Honoring Turkey Day the Right Way

The Gary Sinise Foundation serves veterans in many ways. Like other humanitarian organizations (such as the Wounded Warrior Project) it offers resources to military veterans needing help with rehabilitation, counseling services, and retrofitting homes with smart technology to accommodate veterans with mobility needs.

The foundation honors Thanksgiving by serving meals to soldiers on bases both foreign and domestic. Since they opened their doors, they've served nearly 170,000 meals to America's heroes.

Kickoff To Christmas

The day after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday” and it's the busiest shopping day of the year. It's also the kickoff to the heartwarming Angel Tree Project.

It's estimated that 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent in prison. That's 1 in every 28 kids who will experience Christmas without a mom or dad at home. The Angel Tree Project is sponsored by the Prison Fellowship, a humanitarian organization that works year-round to minister to incarcerated men and women.

Angel Tree works with local charities, churches, and civic clubs to make sure kids with incarcerated parents are not forgotten. These organizations put up Christmas trees in their facilities and are decorated with paper "ornaments" listing age-specific gifts, including clothing sizes. Individual donors take as many ornaments as they want, buy the listed gifts, wrap them and return them to Angel Tree for distribution and delivery.

The best way to remember your blessings is to be a blessing. Opportunities abound right in your hometown. This Thanksgiving, what will you do to honor the day?

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