‘Tis the season

Ok, so the holiday season has officially arrived.  Today is Thanksgiving and for the next month or so people will spend a large amount of their time shopping for Christmas presents, planning holiday travel and family arrangements and decorating homes and apartments in festive holiday decor.

Yet as fun as all those things may be, one of the things I love the most about holidays is the charitable spirit that seems to fill the air.  I think around this time people really think about how thankful they are for what they have, so the desire to give to the less fortunate kicks in to high gear.  For the homeless in Austin today, among the many efforts to get a thanksgiving meal to them was Operation Turkey, a program based in Austin that has volunteers make and deliver food to the homeless.  It was started by a Richard Bagdonas following this experience in 2000

That year, I drove to downtown Austin on my way home and handed out the plate of food to a homeless person in a wheelchair on 6th street. He couldn’t say thank you because he was mentally challenged, but the guy next to him said thank you and helped feed it to him. Afterwards I sat and cried in my car. From then on I was hooked.

In 2000, he handed out 2 dinners.  The next year his group handed out 4 dinners, 2 coats and a blanket.  By 2006 they fed over 500 people.

This program is among the many you’ll find based out of Austin centered around giving to the less fortunate during the holiday season.  Orange Santa is a program that provides help for members of the UT Austin community who have special needs during the holiday season by sponsoring a campus-wide toy drive for University employees.  At University United Methodist Church, a program called LoveWorks provides a generous food basket and gifts from Christmas wish lists for families of children with an incarcerated parent.

So, if you are so inclined this holiday season, look up one of these programs and give a little to the less fortunate – whether it be a little of your time or money, extend a hand to those who need it.  Good karma goes a long way.



3 Responses to “‘Tis the season”

  1. 1 Caitlin W November 28, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Great, great post. I particularly love that UT has such great programs that it hosts to help families that are a part of the UT family. Thanks for the links! I love the story about why Bagdonas started the program.

  2. 2 Samantha G. November 30, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I love this post. I completely agree with you and think that people should volunteer and help others more. When I was in High School, I used to serve food at the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner. This act of selflessness originally started when I was 15.

    I was a disgruntled teenager who didn’t want to be around my parents, and knew volunteering was the only thing my parents would let me do on Thanksgiving- and they did.

    I loved doing it, it helped me to appreciate my family more and I have tried to do it ever since then.

  3. 3 jeffbechdel November 30, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    A great post, Brittany! These types of programs are great and usually not very well-publicized. I’m not saying that people want publicity for doing this, but I sometimes wonder if more people knew that they were going on, they might be more successful. Hard to say, I guess. Either way, I wish people would considering doing things like this year-round.

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