Thanksgiving is a time to commemorate the things you’re grateful for by spending time with family and friends, and “giving thanks.”
It’s tradition to celebrate with a feast of seasonal dishes. However, not everyone has the means to celebrate this holiday. According to Feeding America, over 41 million Americans struggle with hunger. People confronted with food insecurity are often left worrying about how they’ll get their next meal, let alone a Thanksgiving dinner.
There are different things your company can do to give back during Thanksgiving. Organizing food drives, volunteering and raising awareness of food insecurity are three effective ways to make a difference in your community.
Hold a Food Drive
You can give back to the community right in your own office. Holding a food drive is an easy way for employees to participate in charitable giving. Start off by finding a place to donate the food you plan to collect. Local food banks or homeless shelters are usually in need. If not, they may be able to guide you in the direction of another organization you can help. Once you find the right organization, they can let you know what their needs are, so you know what to collect. Establish a goal—such as a number of items or bags—to help motivate those involved.
When you’re ready to get started, set up a collection site in a common area that is easily accessible to all your employees. Send out emails before the event to inform team members of the needed donations, as well as during the event to update them on the progress they’re making. Also send an email after the event to inform them of the final outcome and thank them for their participation.
In addition to asking employees to bring food to the drive, encourage them to solicit donations from local businesses. This can be an effective way to succeed in reaching (or surpassing) your goal.
Volunteer in the Community
While food drives are effective, there are many opportunities to help out within the actual community, too. Hands-on volunteer work is often needed at local organizations, such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food banks, nursing homes and hospitals. These types of locations tend to get more volunteers during the holidays, so call ahead to make sure your help will be of use.
Many of your employees will be happy to participate in food drives or volunteer, but sometimes it is necessary to provide encouragement. Incentives don’t have to cost your company money—you can offer a “dress down day,” where employees can wear casual attire to the office in exchange for their hard work.
If you are willing to spend a little money, you can award the person who donates the most items or devotes the most time to volunteering with a gift certificate or monetary donation toward a charity of their choice. Some companies also provide a paid volunteer day where employees can replace a workday by volunteering as a team.
Making an effort to give back during Thanksgiving is a big help to those in need, but don’t stop there. It’s important for other companies to get involved, too. Sharing your charitable efforts on your company’s website or social media profiles can inform others of the issue and inspire them to follow your example. Together, you can make an impact on the effort to decrease food insecurity within the community.
Thanksgiving should be a time for people to celebrate the good things in life with their loved ones—not a time to worry about their next meal. Whether you plan to organize a food drive, volunteer or raise awareness on the issue of food insecurity, your efforts will impact the community in a way that enables others to give thanks.