Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in North America and some other countries. The tradition started as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessings of the harvest and of the preceding year. The history of Thanksgiving is entangled in culture, religion, politics, and war. But in 1863, Abraham Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
The “Thanksgiving” we know today has become a much simpler (or more comprehensive) tradition of giving thanks and sharing memories and gratitude with family and friends. Millions of those who celebrate travel to see their family and friends each year. While we give thanks to all the privileges and good fortune afforded to us, here are 10 easy ways you can make an impact this thanksgiving.
Clean your wardrobe and do a donation drive
It is getting colder, so we are pulling our winter clothes and doing a little swap with our summer clothes (especially if you’re in North America). So this is a great time to clean your wardrobes and donate your lightly worn clothes that you may want to get rid of or freshen up. If you have winter clothes (like jackets, scarves, gloves) you can donate these as well so that homeless and under-resourced people can stay warm this winter. You will save lives! You can donate these items to your local shelter, Goodwill or a specialized nonprofit. You could also conduct the donation drive yourself and hand-deliver your clothes to someone who may need them.
Volunteer for an hour or two with your family
With busy daily schedules throughout the year, maybe you didn’t get a chance to volunteer or give-back to the community at all. Not to worry. This Thanksgiving, you can do a little planning and bring your entire family together to volunteer for an hour or two. Volunteering doesn’t have to be something stressful. You can connect to your local charity organizations, find a virtual volunteer opportunity, or even organize a small volunteer project with your family together (like planting a tree, raising awareness for a social cause, or cleaning the beach).
Set up your Amazon Smiles account to make an impact while you shop
If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, you need to check this out. Amazon Smile is a service by Amazon itself, which allows you to give back a portion of the cost of your purchase directly to a nonprofit of your choice, at no cost to you. Amazon gives a very small percent (around 0.05%) to a nonprofit, but over-time it becomes a considerable donation and it happens for free! This is like investing. Go to smile.amazon.com and set up your account. We invite you to support IVolunteer International. Read our impact report for more information about our work.
Take our #BirthdayDeed pledge to do good on your birthday next year
#BirthdayDeed is our premier online and global pledge campaign. By taking the pledge, you are making a commitment to do something good on your birthday next year. Thousands of people around the world have taken the pledge and are doing extraordinary projects during their birthday. These don’t need to be stressful. You can plant a tree, write someone a nice card, and do any of the thousands of small things to make an impact on your birthday. Take the pledge here.
Make little changes at home to become environmentally-friendly
Yes, we know that shifting your lifestyle to be sustainable and environmentally-friendly can be costly. But there are small things you can change that can make a big impact on the environment. Here are some ideas: purchase actual towels and keep them in your kitchen so that you don’t use as many paper towels. You can also reduce the number of paper cups and plates you use and purchase plastic or glass items. Make sure to use cloth napkins rather than paper napkins and later wash them. You can also spend less than $1 and purchase re-usable grocery bags so that each time you go to the grocery store, you don’t come home with multiple plastic shopping bags. Our favorite shift is to buy a water filter (like a Brita) so that you don’t have to spend money and purchase water bottles. Saves money and saves the environment!
Bonus: Take a break for yourself
We work with a lot of young and adult activists. So if this is you, thanksgiving can be a time for you to take some effective and meaningful time to be with yourself and do the things you love to decompress. Mental health is so important, so if your daily life is about taking action and contributing the causes that are important to this world, then you need to take a break. We give YOU thanks!
Happy thanksgiving to you and your family from all of us at IVolunteer International!