Show your gratitude by giving back to the community this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on your life with gratitude and to then pay it forward. It’s a powerful reminder that you not only need to give thanks, but also give back to your community. That’s why our founders created the Kate and Marty Rifkin Group Foundation (KMR).

Volunteer in your community

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on your life with gratitude and to then pay it forward. It’s a powerful reminder that you not only need to give thanks, but also give back to your community. That’s why our founders created the Kate and Marty Rifkin Group Foundation (KMR).

It is estimated that on any given night, approximately 553,742 people find themselves homeless. That means 17 out of every 10,000 people in the general population. Certain parts of the country are dealing with homelessness at a much higher rate. California and New York saw big increases in the homeless population between 2016 and 2017. Homelessness is a huge issue that isn’t going to be solved overnight—larger changes in infrastructure are necessary. But there are ways to help on any level, and Thanksgiving is a time to remember the importance of giving back.

The Foundation and the team at MyBite want to support our local community through nutrition and education programs. We recently donated literally a ton of fresh organic fruit from the MyBite Orchard to a local food bank—fresh produce is something everyone should have access to regardless of financial status.

Amidst all of the holiday spending, it’s important to remember there are people who cannot afford basic necessities. In continuing our efforts to give back we created the Essential Packs Program. Our team puts together packages of self care and hygiene essentials, like gloves, socks, and toothpaste, for those in need. Each year our friends at Share host a holiday party for the area’s most vulnerable citizens. After an evening of holiday food, gifts, and other festivities, we are happy to provide essential packs for every adult and child in attendance.

From donating to food drives to serving Thanksgiving meals at a local homeless shelter—there are many different ways to make your contribution. It can be overwhelming to figure out how to volunteer with so many options out there.

Volunteering for underserved families
MyBite volunteers fill bags with daily essentials for local underserved families.

Surprising benefits of volunteering

Not only is volunteering good for society, but it’s also good for your mental health and well-being. It connects you to your community and is a great way to make new friends and contacts. Meaningful connection can lead to stress reduction—something we could all use a little of during the busy holiday season. Side Note: Increased stress can weaken the immune system and make you susceptible to that classic, never-ending winter cold. So, if you are finding yourself extra stressed and overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to give your immune system a boost with MyBite Immune. But, in terms of volunteering—beyond connecting to others, it provides a sense of purpose, which can be a grounding force.

Volunteering produces the “happiness effect.” Giving to others releases a flood of dopamine in your brain improving your overall mood. Spending time volunteering can, interestingly enough, make you feel like you have more time.

Those who volunteer regularly have a 27% better chance of gaining employment. Volunteering can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, lead to graceful aging, and improve self-esteem. It also sets a good example—engaging in family volunteering shows your kids the importance of giving back.

Finding the right volunteer opportunity

When trying to decide where you should volunteer you can ask yourself some key questions to narrow down your search. What skills can you bring to a volunteer job? Do you have any specialized training? How much time can you commit? What causes are important to you?

If you’re looking to volunteer with your kids, you can ask them what they feel passionate about. Do they love art or singing? Animals? There are opportunities that involve all of those things. Oftentimes there are family volunteer days, where everyone can get involved.

Where and how to volunteer
Local food bank receives literally a ton of fresh organic fruit from MyBite Orchards

Where and how to Volunteer

The best way to find volunteer work is to check out places like local shelters, libraries, senior centers, youth organizations, places of worship, theaters or museums. To find out where help is most needed, engage with your community. If the places you go to don’t have open volunteer positions, they will likely be able to point you in the direction of a local place that is in need.

Another way to find opportunities is through several vetted online resources. Websites like Volunteer Match, Idealist, and American Red Cross can filter options to make narrowing things down a little more manageable.

Volunteering on Thanksgiving & beyond

If you are looking to volunteer on Thanksgiving day, or in the days leading up to the holiday, sign up as soon as you can because it’s the most popular time of the year to give back. Many slots fill up with people eager to serve food at homeless shelters, but there is need elsewhere too.

Meals on Wheels donates to families and individuals in need—they need volunteers to prepare and pack meals as well as deliver them. They even have opportunities for families to volunteer together.

The Salvation Army hosts community Thanksgiving meals for those with nowhere else to go, and they always need help with food prep—cooking 20+ turkeys is no small feat!

You can also donate to food banks and food drives, which will provide Thanksgiving groceries to people in need. Feeding America is a nationwide organization whose mission is to provide hunger relief—it’s an easy way to find your local community food bank.

Since there is usually a surplus of food donations for Thanksgiving, shake it up and go through your closets and donate clothes. With the weather getting colder, winter wear is needed for the homeless population.

Another amazing organization is Family-to-Family which makes it possible for your family to sponsor the Thanksgiving dinner of a family in need. Or if your heart is with the troops this holiday season, you can send care packages through Homefront America’s Giving Thanks to Heroes program.

Nursing homes and hospitals have many patients who aren’t able to be with family for the holiday. Stop by on Thanksgiving and brighten someone’s day with your company.

Giving back to local charities and volunteering

If you’re looking to donate to local charities, and burn off some pre-dinner calories in the meantime, sign up for your town’s Turkey Trot. Feeling worn down from all of the holiday prep and too tired to go for a run? Pop a MyBite Energy to help you win the race. Everyone can use an extra caffeine boost during this busy season.

Keep in mind Thanksgiving is the most popular day of the year to volunteer. So, while it’s very well-intentioned, think about volunteering another day of the year! In the early spring and summer months, there is usually a volunteer shortage. Or perhaps give back to an organization that is always desperate for donations—American Red Cross is always looking for blood donations. If needles don’t make you squeamish giving blood not only gives back to the community, but can save lives.

Organizations always encourage people to donate money—while your time is valuable and needed, so are the funds necessary to keep these programs running. Great places to donate this holiday season are National Alliance to End Homelessness, Action Against Hunger, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, and UNICEF. These are just a few of your many options.

Personal outreach

On a more personal level, you can reach out to someone in your own life who might be alone this Thanksgiving. Extending an invitation is a wonderful way to spread the love—no one should be alone on a holiday. You could even take it a step further and invite refugees to have a holiday meal with your family. You can host refugee or otherwise displaced families through AirBnB’s Open Homes project—a very generous way to pay it forward.

There’s always room this holiday season to give back in big and small ways. If you don’t have time, you can always donate money. If you have time, use it to do some good in the community. Not only will it benefit others, but it will make you feel a sense of meaning and purpose. Be a role model to your kids and get them involved and engaged at an earlier age.

The best way to express your gratitude this Thanksgiving is to share the love and pass it around. Show your love for your kids by taking care of their health, and getting them started on a multivitamin. MyBite Kidz is a yummy chocolate vitamin bite that will provide your child with the key nutrients they need to grow and thrive. And don’t forget to show love for yourself by taking your own multivitamin to keep you healthy. A little self care goes a long way. Keep up with the kids this holiday season with a multivitamin like MyBite Hers.

And finally, don’t forget to show thanks to the people in your life who show up for you. Thanksgiving is a great reminder to take stock of what you have—the people in your life, the roof over your head, a turkey cooking in the oven. Having and showing gratitude isn’t just a cliché, the power of gratitude is actually backed by science. It has been shown that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.

Make a gratitude list this Thanksgiving—and maybe make it part of your daily routine. Writing down what you’re grateful for shifts your attention away from toxic emotions and makes it more difficult to ruminate on negative experiences. So pay it forward this holiday by giving back to the community and expressing gratitude. You’ll be setting yourself up to start 2020 on the right foot.