How to Make Thanksgiving a Teachable Moment in Park City

Thanksgiving is what you make it. Turn it into a stuff-your-face-fest. Make it about family. Live for the afternoon football games on a weekday or celebrate a day off of work. Yet another way to interpret the holiday is to focus on gratitude. If you’re feeling thankful this year, this is a great time to show it. And I don’t just mean by writing a check.

This year, make the expression of thanks an event and a lesson (if you have kids or a willing adult in your life!). I’ve rounded up a few ways to seize Thanksgiving as an opportunity to instill gratitude, service, and community-building into your family’s repertoire (alongside mashed potatoes and gravy, of course).

Photo by Nuzzles & Co.

1. Volunteer to walk dogs or play with cats at Nuzzles & Co.

As the adorable puppies and kittens await loving homes at Nuzzles & Co., bring a little joy to their lives! I promise, they’ll introduce just as much (if not more) happiness into your lives. Hello, puppy snuggles. You’ll also get a little fresh air and light exercise to balance all the feasting. And who knows? You might fall in love with a pooch like six-month-old Bashful (pictured above) and take him home. To start, fill out a form with your availability and interests. My daughters, aged 7 and 10, have loved this opportunity.

2. Add a homeless or refugee child to your Xmas gift list.

Every year, Catholic Community Services hosts Gift of the Drummer, pairing volunteers with homeless or refugee children to ensure everyone feels the holiday love. You can adopt just one kid or several. If you’re a Black Friday shopper, you can stock up on gifts for your adoptive gift recipient then, and spend the weekend making cards and wrapping with your family.

3. Bake a pie for a fireman or paramedic.

While many of us expect a long weekend off work over holidays, emergency workers can’t go out of service just because it’s Thanksgiving. Many of our local firemen and paramedics/EMTs work long shifts, and some volunteer, to boot. Show your gratitude with some sweets or other baked goods. You can swing by any of the seven Park City Fire Department Stations. Chances are good that you get to climb into the fire truck. Lila still remembers us doing this as a child and hey – firemen are nice eye candy for us moms, too. Everyone wins.

4. Create “necessity kits” and drop off at a homeless shelter.

Food, money, and clothing are often the first things that come to mind when we think about what a homeless person might need. But what about the necessities we depend upon, from chapstick and toothbrushes, to thick socks? Round up a bunch of travel-size items and assemble kits in Ziploc bags, then deliver to a homeless shelter. You might reach out first to your shelter of choice to ensure they can accept the items in question and confirm the best way to deliver your goods.

5. Call your favorite nonprofit and ask what it needs.

Dollars, man hours, a phone call to an influential someone, a sprinter van … you never know what your go-to nonprofit organization in Park City could use until you ask. While some might just need cash, others might ask for random items or in-kind expertise for their clients or upcoming events. Instead of assuming, just call, tell the staff how much you appreciate their work, then ask what you can do to help. Looking for a list of local nonprofits to jog your memory? The Live PC Give PC database is a great place to start.

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