More than anything, Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends. Breaking bread with those you love enables us to share memories and laughter – it fills more than just our bellies, but also our hearts. We savor this tradition.
But Thanksgiving is also a time for reflection, and for remembering our place amongst a wider community. We don’t just think about our own families, but our neighbors and our fellow Americans. We think about those who may not be as lucky as we are.
Another tradition began in the Capital District over 45 years ago. A small group of community and religious leaders, students and social workers held a Thanksgiving dinner for 200 college students unable to return home for Thanksgiving. They didn’t want the students to be alone and the sentiment was never forgotten.
Today, the Annual Equinox Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner has morphed into a powerful giving celebration that feeds nearly 10,000 lonely, homebound and homeless neighbors. (That’s over 12,000 pounds of turkey!)
Many of these meals are served at the First Presbyterian Church in Albany, with hand-made centerpieces from local school children, and tables covered with linens and candles. Volunteers make 9,500 meal deliveries directly to families in need.
My own family has woken up at 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning to wait in a line hundreds deep to receive our assigned neighborhood and deliver our meals. Yesterday, we worked in the kitchen preparing cups of cranberry sauce, and in past years we have mashed potatoes in industrial mixers, and cut up pumpkin pies. The event is only possible with the manpower and donations of its more than 4,000 volunteers.
We have stood side by side with other families, corporations, sports teams, Equinox employees, and with our friends to support our community. It was a friend who introduced me to this event and their family’s tradition of participating. This is how thanks is really given.
The truth is, my family always seems to get more from the experience than we give. Volunteering does that for us, and it’s why I’m so passionate about Passport for Good’s initiative of empowering volunteers to to feel the positive impact. When you know you are making a difference you naturally want to do more.
The Passport for Good team gives thanks for your support, for the empathy you show all year long, and for all of the good you do for our communities. We look forward to working together to make a measurable difference in the years ahead.
Happy Thanksgiving, from my table to yours,
Founder and CEO of Passport for Good