Thankful? Then Make a Difference.

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We’re thankful for another year, thankful for healthy kids and really thankful for the amazing Thanksgiving meal awaiting us.  Are you truly thankful?  Well do more than just talk about your gratitude this Thanksgiving.  Bottle that gratitude and put it into action to brighten the lives of others.

There are lots of easy ways for you and your family to make the difference for those who are less fortunate this Thanksgiving.  Too busy preparing the holiday meal and getting the house clean for guests?  Don’t worry, these unique ideas take very little effort, but make a big impact:

Take a trot!  Many communities host an annual “Turkey Trot” to help those in need.  These 5K races are usually held on Thanksgiving morning.  You just pay your registration fee and run or walk with hundreds of others wanting to make a difference.  Proceeds are usually donated to feed hungry families.  You can find a Turkey Trot in your community by checking your local newspaper’s community calendar, seeking out your local YMCA or calling a food bank in your area.

Visit hospital patients or the elderly.  Bring Thanksgiving joy to those who are hospital-bound or in senior homes.  Simply contact a hospital or senior facility this week and ask if there is anyone who you can visit.  Most volunteer coordinators will be happy to make the arrangements for you.  Instead of lying on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner, hop in the car with your family and visit a patient.  The smile you’ll receive will make the trip worth it.

Give a soldier a call.  Each year, members of the armed forces are away from their families during the holidays.  Imagine the joy you can bring to soldiers by providing the resources for them to call their families this Thanksgiving.  Cell Phones For Soldiers is a nonprofit that makes free calls possible for soldiers.  Simply make a donation by visiting http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/ .

Cook with a cause.  Needing serving dishes, more utensils or extra pots and pans for the big Thanksgiving meal?  You can shop at your local nonprofit Goodwill thrift store (http://www.goodwill.org/) for these items. The prices are great and every purchase will help feed or clothe those in need.  You can also check your local grocery store for brands that support charities.  By using these brands in your meal you can support great causes.  For example, Newman’s Own  (http://www.newmansown.com/) brand of organic foods donates 100% of their proceeds to various charities!

Now you can add the words “I’m thankful that I can make a difference” to your list of thanksgiving sentiments.

Moms, how will you and your family make a difference this Thanksgiving?

Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, communications strategist and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women.  Learn more about her on her blog www.bahamamommyinc.com .

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