Creating a Teachable Thanksgiving for Your Family


Thanksgiving has many definitions, but one that resonates – yet is often lost in the hubbub each fourth Thursday of November – is simply, “The act of giving thanks.”

This Thanksgiving, I once again challenge you to use Thanksgiving as a teaching moment. Show your children the many ways to express gratitude, and help them to step outside of their own experiences and place themselves into the shoes of those who are less fortunate, which can help deepen their appreciation for all they have.

Collect Items for the Peace House

Photo Courtesy: Peace House

In 1995, the Peace House domestic violence shelter was built in response to an incident three years earlier when a local woman was murdered by her husband in a local grocery store parking lot. Since then, the critical services provide by the Peace House have expanded to include a Community Campus, where transitional housing and childcare are provided to complete the continuum of care that allows survivors of domestic violence to work toward independence. The Peace House can use many types of contributions – both cash and in-kind – but one way your kids can help is to organize a neighborhood goods drive. Items listed by the Peace House as “urgent needs” include toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, cases of bottled water, soft soap pump bottles, children’s snacks and juice boxes. Help your children create flyers to distribute to throughout the neighborhood, inviting your neighbors to contribute the listed items and deliver them to a box placed on your front porch. Contact the Peace House’s Volunteer Donations Coordinator, Kathy Churilla, at 435-649-6823 or [email protected], for information on delivering your donations.

Make Items for Patients at Primary Children’s Hospital

Photo Credit: Primary Children’s Hospital

Many of us have had to take advantage of Primary Children’s Hospital in SLC, and certainly gave thanks at the time that we have easy access to such a world-class health facility. With our heightened awareness of bullying and the detachedness social media can cause, teaching empathy to kids is critical to help build their mental health and acceptance of others, and can even lead to a more successful adulthood. Teaching your kids about having empathy for children facing medical issues is facilitated with step-by-step directions provided by Primary Children’s Hospital for creating play dolls, teddy bears and monsters, and fleece blankets. This would make a great post-Thanksgiving dinner activity, or during a playdate over the long holiday weekend with your children’s friends.

Craft a Thankfulness Turkey

Photo credit: Kidnurse.org

To help get your Thanksgiving guests in on the gratitude train, create a Thankfulness Turkey. This engaging activity can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age, and involves creating a large turkey, then cutting out multi-colored feathers upon which each guest can write what they are thankful for as they arrive. Children get the fun of affixing the feathers to the turkey, providing a gratifying and gratitude-building experience for everyone!

Deliver Food Boxes to Families in Need

Photo Credit: Utah Food Bank

Did you know that Utah has a childhood food insecurity rate of 20.4%, with 13.4% of children in Summit County struggling to access food regularly. To help raise awareness with your children that kids are going hungry locally, consider volunteering for the Utah Food Bank. Children ages six and older can participate in their Family Volunteering programs, which include decorating and delivering food boxes to families in need. Each box includes one week’s worth of non-perishable food, plus bread, fresh produce and protein. Food Box Volunteers are required to deliver to a minimum of three clients per month, for a minimum of six months, so this is a consistent commitment your family can look forward to participating in together. The Utah Food Bank is located in Salt Lake City, but their services touch all corners of the state. To learn more, contact the Food Box Coordinator at (801) 887-1271 or [email protected].

Create a Gratitude Chain

Photo Credit: WithLoveIma.com

In the spirit of the paper chains many of us made as schoolchildren, take the month of November to create a chain of gratitude to display during the holidays. Simply cut out colored construction paper into one-inch strips and have each family member write down one thing they are grateful for every day in November. This placed the focus on being thankful throughout the month, and not just on Thanksgiving Day. Since it’s suggested that articulating your gratitude can have very real benefits, this exercise not only provides for a festive holiday decoration, but could also improve your physical and psychological health.

I am continually grateful to live in a community like Park City, where opportunities to support nonprofits and share in these experiences with our children abound.

To learn about more about the many reasons new homeowners Choose Park City, connect with Christine Grenney at 435-640-4238, or visit her website by clicking here to learn more about the reasons Park City and its surrounding communities are unmatched in their charitable endeavors.