On the fourth Thursday of November, most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. The tradition traces its roots back in 1621 when the first colonists or Pilgrims did not have enough food to eat during their first winter. They almost did not survive until the Wampanoag Native Americans helped them. The Native Americans gave the Pilgrims seeds and taught them how to fish. In the late 1660s, the tradition turned into an annual harvest festival in New England.
In the 21st century, for most Americans Thanksgiving Day is a time to pause, reflect and give thanks for the wonderful bounties and blessings bestowed upon them. This is also a day to reunite with family and friends, to usher in the holiday season and stuff themselves with turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.
This Thanksgiving holiday in 2011, I did something different. I served food to the homeless at a local shelter, People’s Church, in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. It’s hard to believe that there are people who are hungry and do not have a place to sleep in the US. There are about 5,170 people either staying in shelters or living on the streets in Chicago (Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness).
This Thanksgiving Day, I helped recruit volunteers from the Rotary clubs of Chicago Far North and Lakeview and we served food to the homeless. We served them a traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie. The Rotary club of Chicago Far North has also partnered with the Bayanihan Foundation in several projects to help the indigent in Iligan City, Philippines.
Afterwards, I went to my Mom’s house and shared a Thanksgiving meal with my family. My Mom served both American traditional food of turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie and Filipino traditional food of pancit (Filipino noodles) and adobo (marinated pork). I also have a lot to be thankful for but most of all, I was thankful that I was able to serve food to the homeless and help those who are in need, both locally and globally.