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Five Ways to Put the Giving in Thanksgiving

Most people have some type of Thanksgiving tradition. It might be frying a turkey with your faithful dog Cuddles, hosting a “friendsgiving” for your buds who are far from home, or devouring homemade pumpkin pie with three generations of your family. Regardless of how you spend your day, hopefully you’re among those who take some time on Thanksgiving to reflect on what they’re grateful for.

When you take a step back and realize how thankful you are for what you have, it’s often natural to feel the urge to give. Taking time this weekend to think strategically about how your skills, passions and financial contributions can be utilized during the holiday season is a great way to be productive while waiting for your third serving of mashed potatoes to digest.

Here are five ways to give more than your thanks this year:

  • Volunteer Time: Start a new holiday tradition by volunteering with your family or friends over Thanksgiving weekend. Serve dinner at a soup kitchen (year-round!) or forgo Black Friday shopping to visit with residents of nursing homes.
  • Adopt a Family: As the holidays approach, many organizations run programs to provide gifts for families in need. Always envied friends with nieces and nephews to shop for? Here’s the perfect excuse to play with all of the “it” toys for the year while helping brighten a child’s holiday. Your local chapter of the Salvation Army can put you in touch with programs and Amazon is running an online Toy Drive with the Today Show.
  • Donate Money: With the start of 2013 only 39 days away, this holiday is a good time to plan your end-of-year charitable contributions. Most nonprofits will run year end campaigns, but research your favorite organizations to see where your funds can be best used.
  • Run a Turkey Trot: Not only does it help negate holiday baked goods, Turkey Trots and other races usually benefit charity. The YMCA hosts 5k races on Thanksgiving around the country to benefit their programs.
  • Invite extra guests for dinner: The holidays are definitely a time where “the more the merrier” rings true. Have a co-worker who can’t make the trip home for Thanksgiving? Have her join your meal—you never know, she could be the next Ina Garten and wow your family with her homemade stuffing.
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As you reflect on what you are thankful for on Thursday, remember that thanks is only half of this holiday. Think of those who aren’t as lucky and find a fun and rewarding way to help.

Image via (cc) flickr user Annika Ekstrom Photography

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