Making a Difference: The World of Giving -- Thanksgiving, a Verb

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action." W.J. Cameron

Many of us think of Thanksgiving as a day spent with family, eating a great meal and watching football. I believe that thinking needs to be changed! Thanksgiving should ignite a sense of gratitude for all that one has and also be a day of action. Millions of Americans, one in six to be exact, struggle with hunger on a daily basis not just during the holidays. That means your elderly neighbor, your child's schoolmate or your co-worker doesn't know when their next meal will be or where it will come from. It's time for all of us to act and help eliminate hunger. You want to help, but don't know how?

One of the easiest and fastest ways to be Making A Difference® (M.A.D.) and help the hungry is to make a monetary donation to your local food bank or Feeding America. These organizations due to their relationships with food manufacturers, distributors and vendors have the buying power of four to one. Meaning every dollar you donate makes FOUR meals!

Numerous people when asked to make a food donation, simply clean out their pantry of the food they don't want or haven't used. We are all guilty of this. However, odds are if you don't want it, neither do other people. Food banks and pantries are always in need of non-perishable items such as tuna, peanut butter and crackers, but what people don't realize is they also need fresh produce and protein like chicken, turkey, apples, potatoes and juice. To make sure these items are on a needy family's table in time for Thanksgiving they should be donated at least one to two weeks ahead of time. Bonus idea - inquire at your grocery store about programs they might have to feed the hungry for example donating or sending whole meals.

Another great way to be M.A.D. is inviting others in your neighborhood and community to your Thanksgiving dinner who you know are struggling this year due to a job loss or home loss. Often times people are embarrassed to mention their situation or inquire about help, so if you think someone you know might be hitting hard times this holiday season invite them over for dinner!

Finally, you and your family can volunteer. Most food banks and partner agencies have volunteering schedules and need more hands during the holidays to help distribute food. Consider making it a family event to insure your neighbors are fed.

Here are five (5) tips to be Making A Difference® (M.A.D.) this Thanksgiving and every day:

1. Make a food basket for the hungry. Get together with friends and neighbors to collect even more items!
2. Skip a meal once a week or month for the next year and donate that money to a food bank.
3. Go to your house of worship and serve meals on a regular basis.
4. You don't always have to donate food items! Nonfood items are in need as well. For example, laundry detergent, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper and diapers can't be bought with food stamps.
5. After school programs provide not only a safe and fun environment for all students, but snacks and even sometimes meals. Over 16 million children lived in food insecure homes in 2011, so consider making a donation to your local after school program.

Bonus Tip: Don't forget about all the victims from Hurricane Sandy! Hundreds of residents are still without power and a number of people lost their homes. You can make donations to the food banks of Long Island, New Jersey and Staten Island to help them get back on their feet.

With all these tools and ways to help, let's get moving! Which of these options will you chose to do to be M.A.D. this Thanksgiving?