On Sunday, Nov. 20 Dream Closet Winona held a clothing drive in which community members came to campus and picked out clothes for free.

On Sunday, Nov. 20 Dream Closet Winona held a clothing drive in which community members came to campus and picked out clothes for free. Just one awesome way Warriors are giving back this season!

It’s Thanksgiving time! That means endless turkey, stuffing, gravy and the expected food coma to follow. We all love our traditions with family and friends at this time, but what about those who are unable to participate in their much-loved traditions this holiday season, or don’t have any at all? I encourage you to celebrate Thanksgiving a little different this year by focusing on the giving part of the holiday. Beyond simply donating money to a cause (which is also a great way to give back!), here are 7 other ways you can give back this week:

1) Visit a nursing home

Imagine the impact you can make on someone’s day at a nursing home if you visited for even an hour or two with Thanksgiving treats. Often times the families of those in nursing homes live out of town or are not in touch with their family member in the nursing home. You might be the only visitor someone has that day.

2) Volunteer at a shelter, pantry or soup kitchen

A common way to give back to your community during Thanksgiving is to volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. You can find a shelter near you and make a tradition out of this act of kindness. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to continue volunteering on a regular basis, since hunger is a year-round issue.

3) Donate canned goods 

While you consume a delicious meal this holiday, think about people who don’t have the money, resources or assistance to do the same. Give to those less fortunate and donate some of your canned goods to a local food bank.

4) Reach out to a military family

Express your thanks to those who have served and continue to serve in the military for all they sacrifice for our freedom. This includes military families, as they also make sacrifices for this country. Reach out to a service member and their family in your community this Thanksgiving; this could be as simple as delivering a pie or even inviting them to your home to share a meal. Little acts of gratitude can mean the world to a service member and their family.

5) Become a community partner

Get involved as an individual or as a group, organization or business with Soldiers’ Angels. The efforts of this organization ensure that no soldier goes unloved. There are many ways to get involved as a community partner of Soldiers’ Angels, including hosting a collection drive, collecting monetary donations, donating meals on a regular basis (which is great if you are part of a business in the restaurant industry) and simply volunteering your time to stuff care packages.

6) Participate in the Turkey Trot

Get moving on Thanksgiving day and participate in the Festival Foods Turkey Trot! I’ve participated in three trots and I love it. It’s a great way to support the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA in communities Festival Foods serves. You can participate in a 5-mile run, 2-mile walk or the 2-mile dog jog (yes, your dogs can participate too!). After you find a location near you, you can sign up beforehand or the morning of the event.

7) Give and receive love from four-legged friends

If you’re a pet owner or lover, give thanks for the joys animals bring to your life and volunteer at an animal shelter. Find your local animal shelter or Humane Society and sign up to volunteer!

In addition to these 7 suggestions, there are endless opportunities out there for you to get involved in your community. No matter what you do this Thanksgiving, try to embody the idea of giving thanks this time of year and break your traditions. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a new one!