Contributed by Jean Y.

Thanksgiving is a Day to give thanks for all that we have and are as well as a way for us to give back.  There are many ways to give back at this time besides traditional soup kitchens and food pantries. Here are some other suggestions on how to give back during the thanksgiving weekend and beyond.

Send packages to soldiers overseas.  Being away for the holidays is difficult for soldiers and they may not even be able to call their families. Sending them care packages of food or basic supplies is a great way to give thanks for their efforts.  You can also donate phone cards or a used cell phone to cell phones for soldiers.  Be sure not to pack food with cleaning products as the food will wind up tasting like soap.

Feed the hungry.  Many families do not have, nor can they afford to buy, the food, needed to put together a holiday meal.  You can donate canned and non-perishable foods to a food bank or local shelter.  Monetary donations can be given to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks.  During this time, your donation will be matched by Ameriprise Financial, enabling that even more families can be fed.

Help the homeless.  People who are homeless obviously do not have a way to celebrate the holidays.  You can donate food, clothing and socks to your local homeless shelter. If you prefer to give money, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans helps feed the homeless and works towards changing policies to end homelessness.

Deliver meals to housebound people. The elderly and infirmed are not able to travel for the holidays.  If you have time and transportation, you can deliver meals to the homebound.   Contact  meals on wheels to find out how you can help.

Donate blood. Only 5% of Americans donate blood but blood is needed every two seconds.  Start a tradition and donate blood as a family.

How do you help out in your community? We invite you write your comments in the box below.