Thanksgiving has many meanings to many different people. Hands down it is my favorite holiday. I love the simple beauty of coming together to share food and fellowship. Although I am not a big shopper, I recognize that many people look forward to the day after Thanksgiving as much as if not more than they do the holiday itself. In some ways it has become its own holiday. Where I work they list it on the official list of holidays as, "The Day After Thanksgiving." Figuring that someone else is a step ahead of me and has already shortened this to some clever acronym, I Googled "T.D.A.T." and not surprisingly it turned up more than 11,000 hits of the abbreviated term.
A few years ago I decided to skip the madness at the shopping center and volunteer on T.D.A.T (I know calling it this sounds terrible, but so does Black Friday) at a local soup kitchen. It was a place I had volunteered before, but never around a holiday. As I pulled up in front of the building I was shocked to find the parking lot completely full. Inside was more reminiscent of the anarchy that must have been going on across town at the Best Buy that morning. People were coming out of the woodwork.
The volunteer coordinator climbed atop a plastic chair in order to get everyone's attention. After thanking everyone profusely for coming out that morning he made a plea for them to schedule some time each quarter to volunteer. "I struggle just to get six people in here in mid-January," he shared, "and August is even worse!"
In addition to the traditional meaning of this holiday, and our newly found association with insane deals from retailers, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a period of time where we tend to think a lot about donating and volunteering. It builds steadily through December with the help of the Salvation Army bell-ringer and a barrage of media pieces focused on good deeds only to be forgotten and replaced in January by thoughts of joining a gym and trying to lose all that extra holiday heft that we've gained over the past six weeks.
Let's keep this sage advice from the volunteer coordinator close to our mind and hearts all and "celebrate" Thanksgiving four times a year. By volunteering once a quarter you will ensure that the local organizations that depend on your support will be able to operate smoothly all year long.
Visit Create The Good to find volunteer opportunities near you!