Thursday, October 10, 2013

Giving is the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving

The time is upon us to give thanks for what we have received over the past year, whether it be food or fortune or just family and friendship. Yet this is also a time we can engage in actual giving, sharing some of that food or fortune with others. Giving to those in need has become a holiday tradition for my family, as important to us as coming together to celebrate.

Read on to find out why this woman wants to HUG you!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote of the false choice between helping the truly desperate in foreign lands, and helping those being left behind in Canada, in our own communities. And rather than buy the argument that we can’t help others until we help ourselves, I pointed out that the people who really want to help, will find ways to do one or the other or both rather than make excuses to do neither.
Well, if your preference is helping here at home, then an ideal opportunity is coming for you this Thanksgiving. Once again, Rose Romita will be putting on her community feast, out of the goodness of her heart, her own wallet, and the generous donations of friends.
Can you be a friend in need? Every year Rosie needs help paying for the food, plus this year there is a facility rental fee to cover, so if you can offer a few dollars (or a big cheque!) it will really make a difference. Donations of other supplies are also welcome: plates, cutlery, pop or juice and desserts are specific needs.
This year’s dinner is at The West Event Centre located at Victoria Village, 146 Toronto St. If you’re finances are tight but you want to pitch in, you can also volunteer during the event, which runs on Thanksgiving Monday from noon – 6 PM, or if that day can’t work for you, you can help with the prep on Sunday from noon – 4. Call Rosie at 705-722-7763 to let her know about donations or ask about volunteering.
This year’s dinner will feature a new twist: a Free Hugs team lead by Jean Leggett, certified Laughter Yoga coach. Jean’s special mission is to inspire joy every day, to spread love and happiness ‘round the world via comedy, fun, and hugs. Although the dinner traditionally features the joy (or pain) of open-mike karaoke, the addition of free hugs will surely raise everyone’s spirits.
While holidays like Thanksgiving can bring out the need in the community and inspire us to help, it truly is a year-round need, and sometimes a longer commitment is more fulfilling, especially if your own family situation means you can’t be there with Rosie on holidays. So there are still programs like Barrie’s Out of the Cold, where you can help one shift per month over the winter to prevent the homeless from freezing outside. Shifts are of different types (serving a meal, keeping people company, or watching overnight) and times, and can be swapped to accommodate your schedule. To find out how to volunteer, please visit
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as "Many opportunities to help out in Barrie" or "Volunteering good for the soul"

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

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