The Thanksgiving Basket

Thanksgiving baskets are a common sight as the holidays roll around. Pictures and video of turkeys and boxes of the usual Thanksgiving feast are seen at church, on the television, newspaper and even on-line. What would happen if we put a lot of thought and prayer into each basket? Would it make a change?

Why? Each family is different. Some may have children. Others may have members with special needs. If we could take the time, at least on a small scale, to individualize the baskets it could help even more than the traditional foods.

As an example, put in some hot coco for the kids. If a family is caring for an ailing relative, put together a plan that allows the caregivers to have a break and maybe do something fun. Find out if there are food allergies. A box of peanut brittle is great for most of us but it could be deadly to someone who is allergic to peanuts.

Who? To be honest there are times when a family that isn’t traditionally poor could use a helping hand. Imagine yourself if you have three school age kids, one elder unable to help much and everyone is coming to your house for Thanksgiving dinner. Some premade food and a helping hand would mean a lot, but the caregiver is unlikely to ask for help. That doesn’t mean we should leave out anyone with monetary difficulties. It’s an addition not a subtraction.

How? This probably can’t be done in the large scale food drives. Hundreds of boxes needing packed leaves little room for extras or even to find out who needs what. This is more for the smaller drives such as those put on by churches and other houses of worship. The church leaders know their flocks (or should) and can help choose who to help and what to do.

It will involve a lot more church members to become involved. Some may not know they could be useful. Others are shy. Finding the right mix of people will take more time and in the end, the baskets may cost more money�but they reap what they sow� closer community and perhaps more new members.

When? This is probably something that those who’ve never cooked a major meal might not know. If you hand out a frozen turkey the day before Thanksgiving one of two things will happen to it. One is that it won’t be eatenâÂ?¦it takes several days to thaw in a refrigerator (the safe way). On the other hand, it might be left out overnight to thaw and could cause food poisoning. I would recommend the Saturday before Thanksgiving at the latest.

Where? This will probably require a few plans. Someone will have to shop for the food and other items and then bring them to the church. After they are packaged it would be a lot better if they were delivered to the homes. This will ease some of the embarrassment. One fun way to do it might be as part of Christmas caroling. Yes, it is before Christmas, but the music will distract from the embarrassment factor.

I have to admit that before this year I have never thought about these baskets a lot. It never occurred to me that we have a chance of outreach beyond the traditional. I’m hoping this year will be different.

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