Thanksgiving is upon us! For me, it’s the day when I can officially start listening to Christmas music without derision from the purists. It’s also the day when I can bust out my Christmas sweaters and look forward to my favorite day of the year.
But, because Christmas is my favorite day of the year, sometimes I overlook the importance of Thanksgiving. Gratitude is important. Being thankful is good for your body and good for you soul. It helps you focus on what you have and not on what you don’t. It helps you, if you’re like me and a little moody sometimes, to realize that the world is bigger than you and bigger than your immediate problems. If you have a roof over your head and food in your stomach, you have reason to be thankful.
But, I’m not just trying to be preachy. In Portland, Oregon—one of the most progressive cities in the United States—there are so many ways to get involved with the less fortunate this holiday season. And, here in Portland, caring for those less fortunate is something that we highly value. In fact, according to a 2015 study, Portland ranked sixth in the nation in volunteering. That’s the kind of spirit that we have here.
One of my favorite ways to get involved is to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving at the Union Gospel Mission in Downtown Portland. I like to bundle up the kiddos and drive downtown and, before we consume our feast, feed those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. My kids value this experience. It teaches them to be grateful for what we have and to be compassionate towards those without. They look forward to this every year.
Other ways to get involved in Portland, Oregon on Thanksgiving the Oregon Food Bank and Bridgetown. Bridgetown Inc. helps Portland’s homeless population. You can volunteer at its weekly Night Strike event that brings food, clothing, haircuts and supplies to people under the Burnside Bridge. The Oregon Food bank as well, which distributes a million boxes of food annually and always needs volunteers to help put together and distribute the boxes.
Another way to help the homeless, and also animals, is the Portland Animal Welfare, otherwise known as PAW. PAW hosts monthly clinics providing free veterinary services to homeless and impoverished pet owners. Medical, creative and logistical volunteers are always needed. Volunteers are always wanted at rescue shelter Animal Aid and the Oregon Humane Society as well.
So, this Thanksgiving, get into the Holiday spirit by getting involved. You won’t regret it. In fact, you’ll never feel richer.