Thanksgiving is a time for thinking about all of the things that you have in your life, all of the things that you feel grateful for. That’s the ‘thanks’ part. The ‘giving’ part is when you speak about these things, share them and appreciate them. The giving part can also be taken in a more literal sense. You see for some people, Thanksgiving is less about the thanks, and more about the giving. And for one person, the opportunity to give is something to be very thankful for.
How do you typically spend your Thanksgiving?
I usually spend the morning in the kitchen, but I’m not cooking. My family and I make up bags that have things people need for surviving outside when it’s cold. Every bag has a hat and gloves, hand warmers, and a few other things. Then we head out to either a shelter, or sometimes a church- we’ve picked different places the last few years. Then when we’re done helping out there and delivering our bags, we come home and have dinner.
How else do you help out?
Well, it depends on where we are, but we help serve food sometimes, sometimes we help cook, clean up, or just give out bags, blankets, coats, things like that.
And how do you decide where to go?
Usually it’s somewhere that we’ve heard about during the year or someone asks if we have ever been to a certain place. Sometimes people from our church will tell us where they may need us.
Where do you get the things that go into your bags?
Some of the things we buy ourselves. The hand warmers and hats and gloves you can buy at Walmart or the dollar Store and they really don’t cost a lot. We usually start asking our friends and family to make donations. We have a box outside of our garage and people can drop off donations that we will use on Thanksgiving.
How did you decide that this way how you wanted to spend Thanksgiving?
I really just felt bad knowing that there were so many people who weren’t even thinking about celebrating Thanksgiving with their families, instead they were just thinking about whether they were even going to have food that day. It just made me feel bad almost, having so much when some people had nothing.
And how did you get started from there?
I talked to my family and we tried to think of ways to help out. We asked at our church if they knew of any places that served meals to the homeless or to people in shelters. We got a list of places and we started calling them and asking them if they needed volunteers to help serve meals. I found out that a lot of the places didn’t have a lot of food donations, and so there were some days they couldn’t feed everyone who came to eat. After Hurricane Sandy they had a lot of donations but since then people haven’t been as generous. So we started to collect our own donations and taking them with us, so we could feed and serve. We met so many nice people and it was so sad to see them go back out into the cold with ripped coats and no hats or gloves or anything. So, that’s how we came up with the idea to bring the cold weather bags with us.
Do you only do this on Thanksgiving?
No, we do the cold weather bags and donated coats and blankets plus we serve food on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. But we collect donations all the time and we all volunteer once a month to serve food or write letters to kids in the hospital or send postcards and care packages to people serving in the military.
How does all of this philanthropy make you feel?
I guess it just seems normal. I mean it makes me feel good to help people, but I feel like it’s just what we’re supposed to do, like it’s what people should be doing. So, it makes me happy and I feel blessed to be able to do it, but at the same time, I feel like it’s just not a big deal, I think it’s something everyone should do. Maybe not the exact same way, but I think everyone in the world should be making it a point to help anyone they can, anyone that has less then them, anyone they can lift up or give a hand up to.
That is a wonderful outlook. And I have on last question for you. How old are you?
I’m 12 years old.