Beyond the Soup Kitchen: 20 Other Ways to Give Thanks

thanksgivingthanksgivingThe countdown to Thanksgiving is on, and Facebook is calling for us all to spend it indulging ourselves with daily "I'm thankful" status updates.

It's a nice thought, but what's better for your emotional health: pounding out some words on a social network or getting off your butt and accomplishing something this month that will change the world?

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We can all buy a turkey for the local food bank this time of year and call it quits, but here are 20 more ways to show just how thankful you are ... by giving thanks with more than just your checkbook.

If You're Thankful for Having a Job in a Poor Economy:

Pick through your closet and set aside some nice clothes for Dress for Success, a group that outfits down on their luck job seekers so they can wow at the interview in appropriate attire.

If You're Thankful American Kids Still Get a Free Education:

Take a half day off of work, and spend it in your child's classroom. Teachers could use the help; your kids could use the boost.

If You're Thankful You Have Greenery to Look at Instead of Gray City Streets:

Sign up with the USDA Forestry Service as a volunteer. You could even end up with an opportunity to live in a national park for awhile.

If You're Thankful You Have Clean Air to Breathe:

Plant a tree to ensure there's more clean air for future generations. The Arbor Day Foundation started shipping trees for planting on October 15, and they'll continue to do so until December 10.

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If You're Thankful Your Kids Don't Roam the Streets After School:

Call your local Boys and Girls Club and ask what they need most. Then get it for them (and the kids).

If You're Thankful Your Kids Are Healthy:

Call the St. Baldrick's Foundation to find out when people in your area will be shaving their heads to fight children's cancer. Then get pledges "on your head" to fund research that will cure kids.

If You're Thankful to Be in a Healthy Relationship:

Answer calls for the National Domestic Violence Hotline to help others escape a cycle of abuse and one day get where you are.

If You're Thankful to Have Survived a Divorce:

Find your local dispute resolution center and ask if you can be trained to help other couples get through their divorces without costs that make it impossible to move on.

If You're Thankful for Clean Water:

Join the National River Cleanup to add to the 8.7 million pounds of litter and debris already pulled from America's rivers and streams.

If You're Thankful to Be Able to Pay Your Mortgage This Month:

Swing a hammer for Habitat for Humanity, and you'll ensure another family has a home for the holidays.

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If You're Thankful You Can Read:

A Literacy Volunteers group will train you to pass on the gift to someone else.

If You're Thankful Your KIDS Can Read:

Ask your local library what they need more: money or books? If it's the former, organize a used book sale. If it's the latter, organize a book drive to help beef up the racks and ensure all the kids have plenty of options.

If You're Thankful You're Not Battling Childhood Obesity in Your Home:

Volunteer as a kids' sports coach to ensure other kids have activities to get them moving.

If You're Thankful to Be a Confident Adult:

Help Girls on the Run raise a new generation of kick ass women by volunteering as a coach or just cheer them on during races.

If You're Thankful to Have Escaped High School With Your Sanity:

Call the Trevor Project to find out if there's a LGBT teen support group in your area. If there isn't, start one. If there is, show up to speak about ways It Gets Better.

If You're Thankful for Your Dog or Cat Who Loves You Unconditionally:

Drop a bag of pet food -- the good stuff -- off at the local shelter, then spend an hour playing with the animals who live there. Walk the dogs, get the cats out of the cages for a good cuddle.

If You're Thankful You Have a Car of Your Own to Run Errands:

Ask the neighbors who don't have vehicles what they need done. Take them along for the ride, or do it for them. Just grabbing an extra gallon of milk while you're at the grocery store can make all the difference.

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If You're Thankful to Be Tech Savvy:

Check Volunteer Match's list of virtual opportunities. Sign up to Tweet for a non-profit, update their website or be a chat director.

If You're Thankful to Have Health Insurance:

Cut somebody else's health costs. Drive them to their doctor's appointments, find out where the free flu shot clinic is or the reduced cost mammograms are, and take them there.

If You're Thankful for a Nice Yard in a Nice Neighborhood:

Hit a not-so-nice section of town with your trash bag and get to work. Everything looks better once the fast food cups and cigarette butts are gone.

What are you thankful for this year? And what are you going to do about it?


Image via WishUponaCupcake/Flickr

Written by Jeanne Sager for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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