Thanksgiving is almost here and I couldn't be more excited. I'm looking forward to unhealthy amounts of reality TV, my grandmother's sausage stuffing, and a slice of pumpkin pie. But I won't help prepare my family's Thanksgiving dinner before dashing off to the grocery store for another family first. Here's why.
Adopting a family for Thanksgiving was one of my favorite activities in my high school peer leadership group, and also one of the most heartwarming. The social services department in my town provided us with lists of each family's requests, which we needed to fulfill before the holiday. Most families wanted the basics for Thanksgiving, but others didn't even want extras like pie. (Who turns down pie?!) All they wrote down was food to get them through Thanksgiving and beyond.
I didn't think I would need to shop for a family like that in 2008, but I did. It was the height of the recession. Friends I knew since kindergarten suddenly had their parents out of work, and the town paper urged the community to donate to the food pantry.
I'll never forget the last time I adopted a family in need. I laughed when the two young boys found soup ladles and used them as light sabers. I held back tears when the mother embraced me and said she was so happy her kids wouldn't go hungry this year (we turned her pantry into a food fortress). I didn't do it to feel good about myself, and it certainly didn't feel like a chore. Their gratitude made me think differently about poverty in my town, something that rarely crossed my mind in my hectic day-to-day of school, sports, and college applications.
It's nice to be home after four years away at college and do a good deed for someone else this Thanksgiving. When I sit down to feast with my family, I'll feel good knowing that another family is doing the same in their home.