We have 3 kids in elementary school and every year around this time, we look for something we can do as a family to give back. I think it’s so important to have them take a step back and think about all of the blessings in our lives and how we can do something to give to others. Our hope is that one day, when they’re off on their own, it will be like second nature to think “what can I do to make a difference or to help someone else?”. Of course, that’s a dream, only time will tell if it actually translates. At their school, they are also required to do a certain number of service hours per year and then write about their experiences at the end of the year and what they learned from it. I love this because it reinforces what we do as a family and it’s something special to teach our kids about caring, giving, selflessness and compassion for others.
One of our most memorable years, we donated Thanksgiving food items to an organization called Basket Brigades. We also went to assemble baskets, each with all the items for a Thanksgiving meal for people in need. There were about 500 volunteers there helping, a huge assembly line was set up with turkeys, sweet potatoes, cranberry, gravy, etc. The baskets were going out to families or people living alone in low income housing in parts of the SF Bay Area. We teamed up with family friends of ours and delivered 3 baskets to low income families in Oakland. Needless to say, it was a very eye opening experience for us and for the kids. It was the first experience I can put my finger on that actually touched our kids in a way you can’t teach except through experience. The recipients were all so grateful and we felt like we had made a difference in people’s lives and that they had the Thanksgiving they wouldn’t have had without us. Unfortunately, they lacked leadership to carry on after that year, so the program stopped.
So, we were on the search for a new organization to help and get involved with. Since I love to cook, I thought it would be fun to do something to help that involved cooking, but I didn’t know what that could be. About this time, I noticed the celebrity chef spatulas in Williams-Sonoma and the ads for No Kid Hungry on Food Network. They had me in my sweet spot. Since I wanted to do more than purchase a spatula, I looked online and social media and started noticing posts about hosting a Friendsgiving. I didn’t know quite what it was, but I was immediately inspired and thought “This is it!”.
The next time I saw a post from No Kid Hungry on Instagram or Twitter, I registered as a host. It was super easy and about a week later, they had sent me a little package to get started with my planning. I wanted to have it in early November so that it wouldn’t be too close to Thanksgiving…there is such a thing as turkey overload after all! We invited 10 couples to join us and asked them to contribute online to No Kid Hungry via a link in the invitation. We named our Team “Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice” and we were off! Our kids were a part of the planning and although our event was adults-only, we had our kids stay to help. I think it made them really happy that they were involved in helping with the success of the night and knowing that we were raising money for such a great cause.
We had 20 friends join us for our Friendsgiving and it was an amazing night! I made the turkey, cranberry and gravy and asked everyone to bring their favorite appetizer, side or dessert. It was perfect and all of the food was incredible! I was aware of a couple of local moms entreprenuers who started a company called Turkey on the Table. Immediately, I connected with them because we share the same vision of teaching our kids a sense of gratitude, of THANKS and GIVING. They started their own business locally and it has taken off! They have partnered with Feeding America and with each turkey sold, they provide 10 meals to someone in need. Turkey on the Table is a stuffed turkey where everyone can write the things they are thankful for on paper feathers and can stick them into the turkey. We received one as a gift last year and it will be something that comes out every year at our house, I love it! The beauty is that kids never grow out of it because you can always have them write down a few things they’re thankful for year after year, date them and save them for years to come. I contacted them and asked if they would donate a Turkey on the Table for me to raffle off as a gift for our our guests and they said sure, it was a perfect partnership for my Friendsgiving.
Overall, it was such a great night and it felt so great to get involved with No Kid Hungry. We had so much fun! Great food with our closest friends and we raised $700 for the cause. They say that every $1=10 meals for a hungry child, so that means we helped contribute to 7,000 meals!
I wanted to share my experience on my blog so that maybe somewhere, someone will read it and be inspired. It was such a great experience and an easy way to raise money doing something we love. All it takes is a little planning and the rest was easy. I plan to host another Friendsgiving next year and I want to do it bigger and better! My goal will be to double our team donation! There is no feeling like giving to others…Happy Friendsgiving!