For many families, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and to gather around a table filled with delicious food. They battle annoying relatives while breaking bread with them and discuss what they're thankful for this year, as well as plans for the holiday season ahead. But what about those who aren't as fortunate, or who had a tough year? (What if that's your family?) There is Thanksgiving help for families in need, if you know where to look. Because if you're one of those families, it isn’t easy during the holidays, much less every day.
From ages 4 through 18, I was involved in martial arts. I got my black belt at the age of 10, and four years later I was a second degree black belt. I was also an instructor at my karate studio all throughout high school. Why did I stick with it so long? Of course it was fun, but it was the the focus my studio placed on kindness, respect, and doing the right thing that really resonated with me... like how every year, we had a “kick-a-thon” and used the proceeds to deliver Thanksgiving dinner supplies to all the needy families in our community.
The day before Thanksgiving, students from the studio's three locations met to fill baskets full of turkeys, dressing mix, mashed potato mix, cranberry sauce and green beans for a Thanksgiving meal. Then each family would get a list of addresses, and we’d hand-deliver the food to each family. I’ll never forget the mom who was so touched she cried and invited us in to eat chitlins with her entire family. She was so incredibly grateful, and in turn, I was so thankful for what my family had and that we were able to help so many others.
Of course, your neighborhood might not have a kindly karate studio holding a kick-a-thon, but because of my experience growing up, I believe that kind people exist in every community. There are organizations working to feed families across the country this Thanksgiving. Use the following resources whether you're looking to help out or you're in need yourself this year.