How to give back this Thanksgiving
Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 13:11
Because of the extravagant celebration involving delicious feasts, football and parades, the real message of Thanksgiving Day can become hidden. In order to keep this spirit alive many people give thanks for their lives by finding ways to help those less fortunate. Students, staff and faculty members of Parkland College took that approach this year by participating in the Food for Families drive last month.
This year was the 25 anniversary for Food For Families, a food drive organized annually by the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to help fight hunger in the community. The foodbank distributes food to charitable programs such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and food pantries.
The drive ran from Oct. 17-28. During this time, many schools and offices became involved by collecting food and money donations to pass along to the organization. "Each year, we distribute millions of pounds of food across our network of more than 200 such programs," states the Eastern Illinois Foodbank website. "Together, we're working to create a hunger-free eastern Illinois."
To assist the drive, Parkland advertises the event extensively and places the Eastern Illinois Foodbank's food donation drop-off boxes in high-traffic areas of the campus. Due to the growing success of the drive, the college has been able to expand its reach this year by adding boxes to off-campus locations.
John Eby, the Activities Program Manager at Parkland, works to bring the charity event to the college every year. "It's really been something that Parkland has committed itself to. It feels important to be involved in it," Eby said. "It's the idea of actually putting something in somebody's hands. You can visualize providing a meal for someone."
Although the Food For Families drive is over for this year, donations for the Eastern Illinois Foodbank are still accepted. There are also volunteer options available at the food bank for those interested in getting involved. For more information on the organization, see their website at http://www.eifoodbank.org.
For those interested in giving back to the local community, there is always a need for dedicated volunteers. However, sometimes finding the right volunteer work can be difficult. To help generous people find ways to help, cuvolunteer.org was created. The website compiles a list of various volunteer opportunities in the Champaign-Urbana area and is full of helpful information about each event. The site also lists local volunteer organizations and has a feature for creating a volunteer account which can be used to sign up for events on the website.
"Cuvolunteer.org is a partnership between the United Way of Champaign County, the University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement, Office for Math, Science, and Technology Education, and Office of Volunteer Programs, and a few members of the general public interested in making volunteering easier in our local community," states the website. The site also said that it was created due to the difficulty many people have finding volunteer work to get involved in.
The wide variety of volunteer opportunities is listed on their website located at http://cuvolunteer.org, and there is something available for everyone. The activities range from labor intensive, such as helping with the removal of dead trees, to something more social, such as working as a hostess for a weekly senior citizen coffee shop.
If you are not able to help out at this time, keep in mind you can still take this holiday to give back to your own family. If your family is planning a Thanksgiving dinner, offer to help prepare the feast, help cover the cost, or even just help with the dishes. If your family does not actively celebrate the occasion, you can try to bring everyone together by organizing something small. All it takes to make a difference is one helping hand.