What will you do for this Thanksgiving?

24Nov09

We all know that Thanksgiving is that specific and acknowledged time of the year to be thankful for family, friends, the food on our plates and the roof over our heads. But that should go unsaid. Every single day we should be gratifying for what or whom we always thank over the turkey laying on the dinner table each year cramped between grandma’s stuffing or Aunt Giza’s amazingly delicious -with-marshmallows-on-top sweet potato pie. For this Thanksgiving, why don’t we all do something special for someone else? With the Holidays approaching and a New Year just a month away, getting a head start on those New Year Mitzvahs wouldn’t be such a bad idea. A great way to do this is to get involved with JChoice. Now I know I’m just the Social Media Intern at JChoice and started out only a few weeks ago, but what attracted me so much to the internship is the ultimate goal of the company: to network through social media to non-profit causes out there making a difference in the world by giving what us Jews call Tzedakah. Tzedakah can be seen as an obligation of the Jewish people to give. As an important aspect of a spiritual life, Tzedakah is the Hebrew term translated as charity. The word is based on a root that means justice. Tzedakah, as well as the JChoice mission, is not and should not only be read as a Jewish thing. Giving to others and helping people should be a universal element of everyone’s daily life. Getting caught up in who’s new in Hollywood, the extracurriculars I am involved in, and of course the homework that occupies my college life, I sometimes forget about what is really important: seeing the less fortunate, smile.

I remember back in high school I came back from a really awesome and amazing trip and was so moved by what I experienced. Spending three weeks with my family in Africa, I couldn’t help but think of the Mukuni Village, a village we saw while staying in Zambia. The ten of us were visiting the village and talking with some of the people that lived there – those that could understand us. The children looked at us with begging eyes. My aunt suggested maybe we give them some candy and gave me what she had in her purse. As soon as they heard this word, a swarm of fifteen-twenty kids were surrounding me- grabbing at my hands, tugging at me, and crying when they couldn’t get a piece of that small piece of candy because there just wasn’t enough. As small as it was, one piece of candy would have brought a huge smile to many of these kid’s faces. So when I came back, entering my senior year of high school and frantically applying to colleges, I put aside some of that time to organize a “Stuff Drive” with the peace club I was running at my school. As a group, we decided that these people in this village need our help and what better way than to give? Until that trip to the Mukuni Village, I never really knew what poverty was all about. Of course we have our own poverty problems living in the United States, but until that point, I was never exposed to it. Since then, and now a college student in the city, I try to give as much as possible. I’ll give to the homeless guy sitting in the T station at Copley or the one in front of the coffee shop in Central. But when that isn’t satisfying enough, I think of other ways I can give and make the biggest ultimate impact on someone else’s life. That’s why I joined the JChoice team. JChoice is the new social network engaging Jewish youth in creative ways to make charitable contributions to diverse and meaningful causes of their choice.

The first step to making any kind of impact is to actively show an interest in whatever it is you want to make a difference in. After doing some research, you can become more familiar with different causes – such as those at jchoice.org. One specific cause that stands out is called Baal Dan Charities. Baal Dan Charities provides education materials and learning aides, toys, and supplies for children ages 3-16 in need in Calcutta, India. These children are usually street children who ran away from abusive homes, child labor groups, and gangs, and live in dangerous railway stations known as “trapping grounds.” Living in such environments, these children still get abused from police, gangs, drug dealers, and sexual predators. Social workers and charities create a safe shelter at the railways at night. Children are recruited with parents when possible or are sent to halfway homes for further treatment and rehabilitation. By doing this, children can live off the streets and try to live the life every child deserves.

So this Thanksgiving, I’ll thank the people I have in my life, the opportunities that are available to me, and the food on my plate and the roof over my head. I’ll also think about what I can do to make a difference and continue to do so as much as I can. Perhaps you’re a student at a high school or college and want to start an organization to support a certain cause. Why not start one to help children in need? Think about yourself as a child. What made you smile? A new Barbie doll? The new Hot Wheels race car toy? What do you think would make one of these children in need smile? Sometimes it’s smaller than you think. Even as small as a piece of candy or a ten-page book.

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4 Responses to “What will you do for this Thanksgiving?”

  1. 1 Shantel

    This is my favorite part from your blog! It’s so true and important to think about giving back especially during the holidays.

    “Tzedakah is the Hebrew term translated as charity. The word is based on a root that means justice. Tzedakah, as well as the JChoice mission, is not and should not only be read as a Jewish thing. Giving to others and helping people should be a universal element of everyone’s daily life.”

  2. 2 Ani Reddy

    Well this Thanksgiving I’ll be a helping out a friend who’s not in the US but needs to have her stuff shipped from Brooklyn. My husband and I decided to put forth a helpful hand. So what if not roast turkey, at least we’ll be making somebody’s day.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. 4 Shantel

    This is my favorite part of your blog (I’m also reposting this comment as well)!

    “Tzedakah is the Hebrew term translated as charity. The word is based on a root that means justice. Tzedakah, as well as the JChoice mission, is not and should not only be read as a Jewish thing. Giving to others and helping people should be a universal element of everyone’s daily life.”

    Shantel


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