Although Thanksgiving is widely acclaimed as a day of feasts, family, friends, fun and football (the five F’s of Thanksgiving, but that is another post), it is important to remember that the first Thanksgiving was truly all about community. In SOTRU fashion, we would like to honor some organizations and communities embracing and perpetuating the spirit of the oldest American holiday tradition.
- Some folks at The Giving Heart organization in Richmond, Virginia, will celebrate Thanksgiving with The Giving Heart Community Thanksgiving Feast. Everyone in the greater Richmond area is invited, but a special invitation is sent “to the less fortunate, the elderly and those who would otherwise spend Thanksgiving alone.” At the end of this holiday feast, guests will be given a floral arrangement commemorating their celebration and have the opportunity to pick up a few necessities for staying warm, including a Giving Bag, consisting of “toiletries and other essential items that are created by many” in their community.
- Equinox Inc., a community service organization out of Albany, New York, will be hosting its 42nd Annual Equinox Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner. This long-standing tradition originally started in 1969, feeding 200 college students who were without family. Whether it is at a designated community location, or delivered straight to their door, today, more than 8,000 individuals who are lonely, homebound or homeless neighbors are served. This is truly a community-led effort, enlisting the help of around 3,000 community volunteers who make this day possible. “The Equinox Thanksgiving Community Dinner is funded entirely by generous donations from local businesses, civic groups, and private citizens. Cash, food, trucks, tables and chairs, cell phones, serving dishes, linens, aprons, soap, towels, and advertising are matched by the valuable help of our volunteers. Equinox is the coordinating and sponsoring agency. All surplus donations are used to assist needy families throughout the year.”
- And in Santa Monica, California, the Westside Thanksgiving Community Dinner and Celebration hosts a day filled with surprises, giving families and community members a lot of reasons to be thankful. “The Celebration is open to everyone. No reservations are necessary… just come to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Thanksgiving day. Dinner from 11am – 3pm.” But it doesn’t stop at dinner. All can participate in a day of free services that include: Thanksgiving Dinner, Children’s Entertainment, Basic Medical Consultation, Clothing Distribution, Haircuts, and Basic Eye Exams.
Kudos to these communities who practice the foundations of what Thanksgiving was first based upon: friendship, caring, sharing and being good stewards of humankind. During these times that are so often overwhelming and harrowing, communities such as these have become a mecca to American tradition. Thank you for your sacrifices, kindness, and caring. Thank you for your shining example of subservience, strength and leadership. And most of all, thank you for restoring a bit of faith that some individuals have been working hard to chip away at. For this, we should all give thanks.