Thanksgiving is a holiday with built-in traditions--need I mention stuffing and sweet potatoes?--and Catholicism is a faith with built-in values, one of which requires that we pass some of our blessings on to the most vulnerable members of our community. Just like the food that families share every year, the compassionate volunteers and employees of Catholic Charities come together to serve hot meals, distribute food for our neighbors to put on the table for Thanksgiving dinner, provide shelter to those who may otherwise sleep in the streets and show our unconditional love to thousands of clients who need most of all to know that they are not alone.
"It felt like Thanksgiving day--dinner was beautiful and done out of thought and love," said one resident of Mt. Carmel House transitional housing program in Northwest after volunteers came to serve a traditional holiday dinner last Saturday. "They had to teach me how to use a place setting, and I was grateful to learn," said another. Perhaps calling this dinner "traditional" doesn't really do it justice. Twenty energetic, compassionate volunteers from Deloitte spread linens over tables, lit votive candles, mashed potatoes, baked pies and served the ladies of the Mt. Carmel House program, who would otherwise have had little opportunity to celebrate the holiday on their own.
"I connected with two special ladies who shared their personal stories, triumphs and trials," one volunteer said. "It allowed me to appreciate the little things we sometimes take for granted." At Catholic Charities, we also value the little things, and the program at Mt. Carmel House is just one example of the blessings we share during the holiday season.
Hermano Pedro's Day program staff open their doors to hundreds of people on Thanksgiving day, many of whom would have nowhere else to turn for a warm meal or a loving smile. For five years, staff have celebrated the holiday in the best possible way--by helping others.
Tiffany Tan, Program Director at the Montgomery County Family Center, has worked tirelessly with the Holiday Giving Project to secure food donations so families can celebrate the holiday with a true meal on the table. And her efforts have paid off--the Center will distribute food to more than 450 families this Thursday.
Across the region, the SHARE Food Network distributes more than 10,000 packages of food to low-income families every month. Last week, families in need living in DC, Virginia and Maryland accepted low-priced packages of quality turkey, stuffing, pie, fruits and vegetables and dessert--the menu looked so good that it made my mouth water!
These are but a few of the ways Catholic Charities will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this year. We hope that you, too, can make helping others part of your own holiday tradition. Happy Thanksgiving.
Check out photos from the Nov. 20 holiday dinner at Mt. Carmel House on our Facebook page!