Volume 47, Number 8 - December 1, 2009

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Jeannie Rodriguez
Jeannie Rodriguez

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An untraditional Thanksgiving

By Jeannie Rodriguez

What comes to mind when you hear the word Thanksgiving?

Food, I’m sure; lots of it.

Bargain shopping, too. No one can resist those day-after Thanksgiving sales.

But what about the homeless?

Do you think about strangers huddled together over a small fire to keep warm? How about small children unable to receive a proper education?

Do those things remind you of Thanksgiving?


Well, organizations like homeless shelters and non-profit organizations wish that you would because they are looking for volunteers to help those in need during the holidays.

And a lot of help is needed.

According to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust Census, the total amount of homeless on the street and sheltered reached 4,574 people as of January 2008.

Camillus House, a full service center for persons who are poor and homeless, is looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve food, host a food drive or other fundraising drive, provide business consultative services, or help organize special events.

Camillus House has been running for 49 years and annually provides more than 600,000 meals to the poor and homeless.

Every year the local press, politicians, and more than 200 volunteers join together to provide needy individuals and families with a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal at their facility in downtown Miami, on Thanksgiving Day.

Any person interested in volunteering at Camillus House for the Thanksgiving Holiday can fill out an Emergency Food Services volunteer application found on their website – www.camillushouse.org. Spots are still available.

Feeding South Florida, formally known as the Daily Bread Food Bank, is another agency that works with feeding the needy. They serve approximately 68,000 people through approximately 175 other not-for-profit agencies.

Feeding South Florida is looking for volunteers, 16 years of age or older, who can help sort, check, and package the food donated from food drives, supermarkets, and other food industry companies.

Other ways you can help Feeding South Florida is by starting your own mini-food drive in your neighborhood or at school.

Small donations of the more needed items, often found right in your pantry, are also accepted.

Suggested items include canned meats like tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey & ham, canned chunky soups and stews, canned beans, fruits and vegetables and new, unopened plastic containers of peanut butter and jelly.

You can donate your items to the Miami Warehouse at 5850 NW 32nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33142, Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm.

If helping the homeless doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, there are other volunteering opportunities that could be suitable for you.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami is looking for volunteers to help eliminate poverty housing in Dade County by providing low-income families the opportunity to purchase affordable housing.

Habitat for Humanity states on their website that volunteers need not have any experience in home construction. 

All students, regardless of their size, ability, or strength, can fully participate in the all volunteer effort to build affordable housing for the poor.

Habitat is currently building 95 homes in the South Miami Heights/Gould’s area.

Find a way to get involved this holiday season.

Thanksgiving isn’t just about giving thanks; it’s about giving back.

More Features Articles

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