It’s the same scene every Thanksgiving: the entire family gathers around the festively decorated table that contains enough food to feed the population of Liechtenstein for a week, and before the meal begins, everyone shares something they are thankful for. Back in our younger days, our mothers would give us canned responses beforehand so we wouldn’t blurt out something such as “Nintendo 64” or “Stretch Armstrong.” The punishment for such an offense would be a fate worse than death: no pumpkin pie.What’s wrong with this picture? Well, besides the heinous offense of denying a cute, doe-eyed child a slice of pie, the average observer wouldn’t know. The problem is, when many of us think of Thanksgiving, charity isn’t the first thing that pops into our heads. On this holiday, many people are more concerned with obsessive-compulsive house cleaning or baking immaculate desserts to upstage their sisters-in-law than they are with helping those less fortunate than themselves. And when it comes to charity, most of us put forth minimal effort. That’s one Thanksgiving tradition that has to stop.
First, let’s consider an old favorite: the canned food drive. Traditionally, Mom just hands Billy some creamed corn and a three-year-old can of carrots at high risk for containing botulism so he can skip off to school and drop it in the bin. Well, they’ve done their part, right? Wrong.
Just because some people don’t have the means to afford food for Thanksgiving doesn’t mean they should be forced to eat the forgotten refuse of your pantry. In Matthew 25:40, King James Version, Jesus says “…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Would you give creamed corn and old carrots to Jesus? Didn’t think so. So next time you’re at the store, try picking up some premium soups or hearty chili for your local canned food drive. Who cares if it’s not “Thanksgiving food?” It’ll be the best meal some recipients have had in years, and while they’d greatly appreciate any food given to them, upping the ante makes it all the more special.
Also, homeless shelters and assistance ministries could use a lot of volunteers this time of year. With donations rolling in by the truckload, employees of said charities and shelters have a hard time organizing and distributing it all. That’s where we come in. Best of all, there are positions for all personality types. If you’re antisocial like myself, you can work in the back unloading food and organizing it into groups. However, if you’re more of a people person, you can work up front serving food for the hundreds of people that have no other place to go. Don’t worry about missing out on your turkey though. Many shelters run “Thanksgiving” dinners on Wednesday night or Thursday at noon, still leaving plenty of time to stuff yourself silly afterward.
So, as the family gathers around the table this Turkey Day, take the time to be thankful. Just remember that people with blessings as abundant as ours owe more to the world than small bits of charity here and there. This Thanksgiving, be grateful for the delicious spread that lies before you, but more important, make someone else thankful for your help.
David Hall is a freshman news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood. His column appears every Tuesday and Friday.