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Let's Give Thanks in a Whole New Way

by Wendy Spencer

This Thanksgiving, as we gather with loved ones and give thanks for the blessings in our lives, let us also commit to share those blessings through service to others.A spray-painted Thank You Volunteers was left on the wall of a home that was mostly destroyed by the tornadoes that struck Joplin, MO, in 2011.

On Thanksgiving, we remember the privilege we have to live in a country where freedom is the right of every person and all have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. We honor the brave men and women of our armed forces, who risk everything to protect our freedom, and the military families who support them. And we remember and serve those in our community who are in need of our help and support.

As CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, I know that every day, in communities across the country, Americans are making a powerful impact through service. I am grateful for the dedication of all those serving in the military, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Peace Corps; to the millions of Americans who volunteer their time helping those in need; and to the extraordinary nonprofit, faith-based, and community groups that support America's volunteers.

This year, a new campaign is gaining steam to focus more attention on service and philanthropy during the holidays. It's called Giving Tuesday, and its goal is simple: to establish a national day of giving during the holiday season. Just as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with holiday shopping, Giving Tuesday aims to inspire charitable giving and service.

Giving Tuesday will take place The Giving Tuesday logo highlights the event that encourages charitable works on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.next Tuesday, Nov. 27. More than 1,500 nonprofit, corporate, and foundation partners have already signed on. As the federal agency that supports service and volunteering 365 days a year, we appreciate this focus on strengthening the nonprofit and voluntary groups that are so essential to our nation's well-being.

So how can you get involved?

  • If you are a nonprofit, you can become a Giving Tuesday partner by sharing your plans for Nov. 27, whether that is a volunteer project, fundraising opportunity, or other initiative. Businesses, foundations, or other groups committed to leading a project to benefit a nonprofit can also sign up.
  • If you are an individual, you can participate simply by volunteering or giving to group you support.

Whether you volunteer at a food bank, help those recovering from a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, or reach out to a military family, there are many ways to serve your community. Visit Serve.gov to find volunteer opportunities near you or get ideas for projects you can start on your own.

As we gather with family and friends tomorrow, let us remember those who need support, and commit to serving them throughout the year. By giving back, we strengthen the spirit of compassion and generosity that has been the hallmark of our nation since its earliest days.

Wendy Spencer is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that engages millions Americans in service through Senior Corps and AmeriCorps and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

P.S. Share your messages of gratitude and thanks on Twitter using the hashtag #AmeriThanks.

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