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Giving Thanks and Giving Back

by Patrick A. Corvington

This Thanksgiving, as we gather with family and friends to express gratitude for all that we have been given, let us also renew our bonds to one another, and recommit to serving a cause larger than ourselves.

On Thanksgiving, we pause from our normal lives and join with loved ones to appreciate the blessings we enjoy as individuals, families, and a nation. We remember the great privilege it is to live in a land where freedom is the right of every person and all have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. We offer our grateful appreciation for the brave men and women of our armed forces, who risk everything to protect our freedom, and the military families who support them.

Thousands of military families will look across their tables this Thanksgiving and think of their loved ones who are far from home, serving and sacrificing in our nation’s defense. It is our solemn obligation to support our veterans and military families. The Corporation for National and Community Service has made supporting veterans and military families a priority and is working with organizations across the country to expand opportunities to serve and engage the military community. You can learn more and find opportunities to serve by visiting our veterans and military families web page. As President Obama said in his proclamation making November Military Family Month, “Even the smallest actions by neighbors and friends send a large message of profound gratitude to the families who risk everything to see us safe and free.”

This Thanksgiving, let us also remember that millions of our neighbors are experiencing the hardship of hunger, and let us redouble our efforts to provide food assistance to those in need. A recent report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that 50.2 million Americans, including 17.2 million children, had difficulty putting food on the table last year -- the highest level since 1995. Food banks across the country are reporting surging demand for food assistance. In the midst of our great national abundance, the existence of widespread persistent hunger is inexcusable.

There are many ways volunteers can fight hunger, from donating to a food bank or delivering meals on wheels to planting a community garden or supporting a summer feeding program for children. Go to Serve.gov to search for local volunteer opportunities that match your location or interests. Or you can get ideas for starting your own project from our anti-hunger toolkit. Working together, we can take action to reduce the scourge of hunger in our communities.

As we gather with loved ones tomorrow, let us count our blessings and commit to sharing those blessings with others in need, on Thanksgiving and throughout the year.

Patrick A. Corvington is the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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