Feeling Grateful and Hungry? Put Them Together to Help Those in Need

by Judy Stone-Goldman on November 21, 2011

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Donating to food banks is a way we can express gratitude for the sumptuousness in our life

I am grateful for ample, healthy, delicious food

This is a big week for two topics: gratitude and food.

First up: gratitude. In many ways, gratitude is au courant. Gratitude quotes, sites especially for expressing gratitude, movements to teach gratitude, even gratitude gurus—there’s a place for anyone who has an inclination to be grateful. I’m not making fun of this (oh, maybe just a little) or separating myself from the crowd: I recite gratitudes to cure bouts of negativity, and I’m overdue to participate in a gratitude challenge with a blogging group. Goodness knows the world wouldn’t be hurt by mountains of gratitude.

But being grateful (and saying so) is one thing. Acting in response to gratitude is something else.

Okay, on to topic #2: food.

With Thanksgiving approaching, food is everywhere. Advertisements, radio shows, advice columns, early warning systems for defrosting turkeys—whether you want traditional, organic, vegan, or ethnic, there’s a Thanksgiving meal waiting for you.

Or is there?

For Americans who are struggling, Thanksgiving is one more reminder that food is a source of stress. Will it be available? Will it be affordable? (Don’t even bother asking, “Will it be good?”—when you don’t have enough food, worrying about quality becomes something of a luxury.)

Now, adding #1 and #2…

Why not make this a time for active gratitude? Why not move beyond the platitudes of gratitude and act upon your gratitude to help others be grateful about food? The options are many:

  • Donate food to a local food bank. Remember, the people who use food banks are real people who want real food! Give what you would want to eat yourself.
  • Donate money to an organization that coordinates and distributes food, such as Food Lifeline and Feeding America (and Action Against Hunger, if you want to think internationally). You don’t have to be affluent to make a donation that counts.
  • Volunteer to help! Distribution centers (like Food Lifeline) rely on volunteers to break down large loads and repackage the food so local food banks can pass the products to clients. Hunger relief organizations (like Northwest Harvest in Washington State) have many volunteer opportunities for collecting and organizing food. Organizations that serve free Thanksgiving meals need volunteers to set up, serve food, and clean up. (Of course any of these organizations would love donations, too.)

My guess is that taking action to help others will remind you of how fortunate you are. Then you’ll have that many more things to put on your gratitude list.

Another way to help: share this post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, to encourage others to participate in active gratitude. And when you make your donation, let us know so we can express our appreciation to you.

Questions for Reflection: In what ways do you express gratitude? How does the up-coming holiday stimulate your desire to be grateful and show appreciation? Where does food fit in for you in your life, and what would you do if you didn’t have access to good food? What would you like to do to act on gratitude?

Writing Prompts: “When I express gratitude, I feel ______” (then keep writing); “I make sure to be grateful by ______” (then keep writing); “All the emphasis on food at this time of year makes me ______” (then keep writing); “One way I plan to show gratitude through action is to ______” (then keep writing).

 

 

 

 

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna McCord November 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm

When you stop and think about it, being grateful for all that we have, especially the basic needs of life being met, is something we need to be reminded of all throughout the year. I am hoping that everyone here in this country will be mindful of the many blessings we enjoy here, even during this time of economic stress and with all the losses so many have suffered, we are still one of the most blessed places in the entire universe to live! I am so thankful for my family and for my friends and for being free to follow my precious Savior, Father God and Holy Spirit without fear of retribution. One of my favorite actions is to collect food for homeless children through StandUp for Kids, a small local ministry that works with the schools to identify teens and preteens that have either left or been kicked out of their homes for all types of reasons. There are so many organizations out there that are reaching out to the homeless and helpless and needy, which is another reason to be thankful for the country we live in…we are a nation that has a big heart and so many, just like you, Judy! that are willing to help.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Donna, I think it’s wonderful to find an organization close to home that you believe in. The problems of the world can be so overwhelming, we can quit before we even start by not knowing how to help. But being involved in a local group–however small–allows us to do good right in our own area and be more connection to the solution. You exude wonderful gratitude and you have such a strong faith supporting your actions, you can only be a force for good! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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Heidi & Atticus
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Perfect gratitude piece for Thanksgiving, Judy! Atticus is the perfect example of Always being grateful — especially for food! (& he doesn’t really care about quality!). But seriously, this is such an important message — active gratitude.

Must tweet this. Hope you get loads of readers on this one!

Heidi & Atticus

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thanks for your enthusiasm, Heidi, which I know Atticus shares. I just can’t imagine the children growing up with food insecurity. Everyone worries about kids not having gifts on Christmas, but imagine how hard it is for a family to see all the sumptuous feasts advertised and yet have to scrape by on barely enough? So I’m going to nudge people on this one. Thanks for sharing.

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Franziska San Pedro
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Hi Judy,

wonderful post about gratitude and the act of giving, thanks for your enthusiasm! Gratitude can never be shown or said too much.
I always feel like it’s not enough what I do and I could do more. Helping should never be a temporary act but done all the time and incorporated in life. And I am trying to live up to my high standard.

With your list, you gave me some great ideas, thank you,

Franziska San Pedro
The Abstract Impressionist Artress

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Vicki Dello Joio
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 7:03 pm

As always, Judy, your blog takes me deeper into thought. You truly are reflective not just for yourself, but with what you prompt in your readers. I love the idea of active gratitude. For me it means matching the internal sense with external expression. Your ideas and suggestions feel like an action/thought prompt in the same way your writing prompts do, inspiring deeper access creativity. I am always so happy to see your blog and know I will have a moment to read with true pleasure

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Vicki, Given that you manage to talk about sometimes-popular topics without the usual cliches, I really value your comment. I like what you said about matching the internal sense with external expression. Let’s face it–it’s easy to it back and ponder gratitude. Much harder to take action! But I find the active gratitude is filling something in me that was searching. Thanks for your wonderful comment, and happy Thanksgiving to you. (I can just picture you breathing deeply and maintaining a calm presence amid the hubbub!)

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Susan Berland
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm

You make an excellent point, Judy. Saying you’re grateful and putting it into action are two different things. We always donate food to the local food bank during the High Holidays. In our county, the food bank depends on our synagogue to get them through Thanksgiving. We haven’t failed them yet. I taught my children to do good works when they were young, even when we didn’t have much money. We had time and we did what we could. I’m really proud to say that they have grown into giving adults.

Susan Berland
A Picture’s Worth
http://susan-berland.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Hi Susan,
Your children are lucky to have had you as a role model and also to be taught how to give charitably. You have reason to be proud of them if they are giving people. I think collecting food is common at synagogues at the High Holy Days, but I’d be surprised if that sustains a food bank through Thanksgiving. You must have generous folks at the synagogue!

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bill austin howe
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Lovely post dear Judy! I am in complete agreement that this is a time (now more than ever) to share the abundance that we have been blessed to receive.
Thanksgiving Day Jon and I will be serving food at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Every year there are more people with nowhere to go and no one to share the holidays with. We do what we can to make them feel loved and appreciated as fellow human beings.
We are throwing a Thanksgiving party on Sunday the 27th for 12 people. Some neighbors and a couple of old friends will be here to celebrate just being together. I LOVE to cook so this will really be fun for me.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Bill

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Bill, You are a shining example of what I’m talking about! What brilliant plans–giving with love on Thanksgiving, and then celebrating with more love (and your cooking!) the day after. You are going to be rolling around in good energy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jon (and the dogs).

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Abigail Gorton November 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Wow Judy! You took a well trod and perennial topic and you made it fresh and motivating. Yes, it is the right time of year to show gratitude and there are some very immediate and practical ways we can do it. It is a good time to show our own children some practical things we can do also… I’m all for doing good deeds quietly but we need to at least show those who we are teaching.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Hi Abigail – Great point – balancing “tooting our own horn” and showing what we are doing to teach others. Children are incredibly receptive to charitable action, so seeing their parents engage is very powerful. Thanks for the great comment.

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Cory Zacker
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 4:55 am

Oh Judy, I love this post for so many reasons. First the photo of the delicious vegetables at the top – they look so good! Next, we can all use a reminder to be grateful. Most of all, thank you for concrete ideas as to how we can help others less fortunate this holiday season. Here in NYC my son and I have volunteered for City Meals on Wheels which brings food to home-bound seniors. It’s a wonderful organization that helps others and has taught us so much. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Cory, It’s so much fun to hear the different organizations that people help. Do you actually visit some of the people who are served food? Doing something like that with a son or daughter is particularly wonderful, both as a bonding experience with a good feeling and for all that you are teaching your child. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

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Cory Zacker
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Yes, Judy we bring the food door to door. Most times the people take the food, thank us and that’s it. But other times we have brief conversations and it’s really wonderful. One woman we delivered to was 95 years old and her face lit up when she saw my son. “How nice to see a young face today!” she said. Wonderful.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

What a gift for those people! My mother-in-law is 95 and quite limited now, unable to go out (she lives in a retirement home but can’t independently even leave her room and I know is suffering isolation). Every person who stops in–for whatever reason–is a highlight of her day. I know that you look for ways to teach children as part of routine life, and I can’t think of better teaching than this.

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Candace Davenport
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 9:57 am

I love your blog Judy because you always get me to think about things in just a little different way (ahhhh, you mean being a reflective reader??? What a novel idea…). Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday- not only for the food which I love to cook, but for the family and friends and general all around thanks and giving. But so often this feeling of thanks and giving gets shuffled off into lala land when life gets in the way. So a very nice and gentle reminder that thanksgiving should be not relegated to just one day but should happen all the time.

Candace Davenport
http://www.ourlittlebooks.com ~ Little Books with a Big Message

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Hi Candace – Love having you back at Blogger Monday and in the blogging world in general. I think we all need these reminders. Ordinary life with its demands and expectations takes over and makes us forget some of the core values we do have. Holidays are wonderful for bringing family together–I think including active gratitude as part of a family tradition is an enhancement to the holiday. For our adult children we are giving donations to a charity in their name for some of the holiday presents–traditional gifts for the children, but we’re hoping they learn about the charity as they grow. Happy Thanksgiving, Candace!

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Julieanne Case
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Due to your last post about what kinds of food do you give away for food drives, I have changed what I do. A friend is collecting food donations for families that are just moving into transition housing from being homeless. I bought 2 bags of organic russet potatoes, a bag of onions, 2 cans of organic pumpkin and 2 jars of cranberry sauce for my donation plus a small amount to help pay for other items. I would eat everything I donated ( well except for the money! LOL!).

Julieanne Case
Always from the heart!

Reconnecting you to your Original Blueprint, Your Essence, Your Joy| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | The Reconnection| AgeLoc Skin Care | Pharmanex Supplements

http://thereconnectivehighway.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Julieanne, This is so wonderful to hear! That food you bought sounds delicious and so incredibly nurturing–not just in nutrition but in the energy that comes along with it. When I buy food for donation I like to imagine someone, somewhere, opening the supplies and being really amazed and going, “Thank you thank you!” I’m saying that to you, too. Happiest of holidays.

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Louise Edington
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I am doing this tomorrow! My fave networking group is doing a food drive and my girls and I are going to donate to that while we listen to a great speaker talk about the power of gratitude. maybe I find it easier to detach and just see this as an extension of every day gratitude though since I’m British.
Louise Edington
Breaking Through Online Frontiers
http://louiseedington.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Louise, You are picking up on the best part of American Thanksgiving! Several people have commented on doing these good deeds with children, and I don’t think there’s a better way to help children develop a good moral attitude and desire to help others. If this becomes every day gratitude, all the better. Happy Thanksgiving from an American to a Brit!

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KirkZacharda
Twitter:
November 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Thanks for the lovely reminder Judy- Gratitude is an interesting word, concept- my feelings are you must have the gratitude in your heart and Soul before you can express it- I also feel this is something that many try to teach but again I feel it must come from within so I dont try to teach it I just do my best to be an example for my kids. Nice to have people like you putting out the great ideas to help others. I express gratitude daily during my spiritual practices.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Kirk, Surely being an example for your children is the best way to teach! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving – both spiritual and fun!

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Brenda Jones
Twitter:
November 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to go help serve food. I do take her to volunteer at a local shelter when we go with our church and we are adopting kids and families this Christmas and I’m taking her shopping with me to buy toys for other kids and not her. I didn’t get a chance to do the food drive in time for tomorrow, but we are adopting a family with my mommy group and also with my church… we’ll adopt local families from the elementary school by my house that we hold our services at. My zumba instructor has also put together a group with Salvation Army/JCPenney to adopt 25 angels and I’ve already adopted two. I’m hoping to adopt at least one more now that my hubby has passed his exam and the money situation isn’t as scary.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Brenda, What a beautiful list! You are a busy giver, and an incredible role model for your children. Congrats to your hubby for whatever exam he passed–how lovely that you don’t have to be in a precarious situation. (Makes you all the more ready to give!) Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 26, 2011 at 6:12 am

Judy, This is a wonderful reminder that there is a constant need for food and that giving food is a wonderful expression of gratitude. Rather than looking at food collections as a way to clean out our pantry and give away the canned goods that we no longer want, we all need to think of the recipients as individuals. Thanks for writing a post that makes us think and reflect.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
November 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Sherryl, Sadly, the people who use food banks are comprised of a wider and more typical demographic than in times past. The good part of this is that there is less separation between “us” and “them” (as you say – they are individuals). Giving feels good and helps others–win win!

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Trish
Twitter:
November 27, 2011 at 8:25 am

Judy, What a great post combining both gratitude and giving. I love that you give concrete suggestions about how to help (both monetarily and with food donations). We’re doing a food drive at work and because of you, I’m going to be more aware of what I am giving away (instead of just buying something cheap at the store that I wouldn’t eat). I appreciate your passion for this topic — you are making change happen!

Trish
http://www.robertssister.com
caregiving. family. advocacy.

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