Give A Day Global | Giving Thanks
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Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving may be over, but we are still feeling grateful. Last week we had two different families volunteer at our partner organization, Huellas de Pan, in Cancun, Mexico. Both women who contacted us for a day of volunteering manage travel blogs focused on showing their children the world, and not just the tourist sites. They wanted to spend a day of their Thanksgiving vacation giving back to local communities, while instilling a different world view for their kids. I can relate, as this was something my mom always did for my brother and I when we were young. Our holiday season included a day of distributing toys from a local toy drive to less fortunate families, or participating in a holiday wish drive such as this drive hosted by Family Giving Tree. Participating in the wish drive meant we would be given a gender and age of a child to buy Christmas presents for. It was definitely a bit mind­-bending to be a kid choosing presents for, well… another kid! Obviously my brother and I chose presents that we wanted for Christmas; it was giving them away that was quite an exercise of will, but a valuable life lesson.

Though, the memory that has stuck with me the most from these holiday gift drives was delivering presents to a family of five living in a one bedroom apartment. I remember walking in the door and having my perspective altered drastically as these kids my age were thrilled to have presents –the only presents they would receive for Christmas, while having to share a room with not only their siblings, but their parents as well. I felt humbled. I believe experiences like these stay with people and alter the course of their values and character, and I’m honored to be working for an organization that passes along these amazing moments to a new generation. One of the daughters of our volunteer, Elaine, had a similar experience when her family joined a group of elementary school children who were celebrating their birthdays at Huellas de Pan. Of her daughter, Elaine said:

“Watching her face I could see the realities coming together for her. She’s used to going to several over-­the­-top birthday parties each weekend, the concept of not having a party or gifts had never crossed her mind.”

These are the memories that stick with you for a lifetime and can remind you to reflect on what you are thankful for, even away from the holiday season. Farah, the mother of the other family who volunteered, has the same holiday traditions as my mom in terms of giving back every season. She takes it a step further by traveling off the beaten path, to lesser developed countries ­– something we are obviously also passionate about here at Give a Day Global. Finding a way to volunteer while traveling was bound to come across Farah’s unbeaten path, and I’m certain she’ll continue this new tradition:

“We should try to do this more often when we travel, because honestly it’s personal growth beyond what any book can teach.”

These life ­lessons are some of the best gifts you can give to your children, family, friends, and community. ‘Tis the season for giving, but ‘tis also the season for giving back. Volunteering abroad, and within your local community, is impactful for everyone involved. Though, giving back and being thankful is not only reserved for the holiday season. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Elaine’s blog, that happened on their ride back to their hotel, as they explained to their driver about Thanksgiving and why they decided to volunteer for a day on their vacation:

“Not understanding what the Thanksgiving holiday is about, Ceser asked us to explain. We told him that it’s a time to give thanks, a day to remember all that we’re thankful for. He was quiet for a minute then said, “That should be every day, no?”

“Yes, yes it should.”

Head over to Elaine and Farah’s blogs to read the full stories from their travels.