What Are You Thankful For?

Guest ColumnistCommunity News

by Kate Vanderwoude

As we continue to endure these struggling economic times, what are you thankful for this year?  Your health? Your family? Your church? Your friends? Your home? Your job? Food on the table?  If you have been blessed with these things and more, I am sure you are thankful for each of them.  But simply being thankful for God’s many blessings should happen daily… so what makes the Thanksgiving holiday special?

I believe the Thanksgiving holiday should be about more than being thankful for your own blessings, but about blessing others; giving others something to be thankful for.

In Matthew 25, Christ calls us to feed, clothe and welcome those in need.  The Thanksgiving Meal Bag ministry is one way we as a body of believers can work together to meet the physical needs of families in our local community.

James 2:15-16 says, If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So let us work together to help our community go in peace, be warm and filled.

The majority of the families served by this ministry will be given a bag of ingredients to prepare a Latino-style dinner including rice, beans, corn flour, and other non-perishable items, along with a gift card to purchase meat and perishables.  We also give out a small number of traditional style Meal Bags including potatoes, yams, stuffing, gravy, canned vegetables and cranberry sauce, etc,. and a gift card to purchase a turkey.

Each year, we coordinate with Isla Vista School, Cleveland Elementary School, Franklin Elementary School, McKinley Elementary School and the Eastside Kids Club for the bulk of our distribution.  But, we also have a smaller number of families each year from El Camino School, Harding School, Adams Elementary School, and Kellogg School.

This ministry has grown over the years in the number of families wanting to participate, but unfortunately we are never able to collect enough bags.  Two years ago, we collected over 400 bags.  But last year we were only able to collect 366. Let’s put this ministry back on track, aiding families in our community that need help putting food on the table!

So, what can you do?

Start TODAY by talking with your Homegroup and committing to a minimum number of bags you will prepare.(Homegroup leaders will email Kate at with a commitment.)

During October 23rd through November 13th there will be Thanksgiving Meal Bag ‘drop boxes’ at the church to collect money to purchase gift certificates ($20 per dinner) for meat for each Meal Bag being donated.

November 13th completed bags are brought to church.

*Not in a Homegroup? You can still participate by donating money for gift certificates and then bringing completed Meal Bags to church on November 13th.

**Don’t have time to shop for groceries?  You can donate funds to help cover the costs of the completed Meal Bags. Please make sure to write “donation” on any checks not associated with a completed Meal Bag.

Do you want to volunteer to help count Meal Bags OR help deliver Meal Bags on November 17th? Have questions?  Email Kate at .

We try to have an idea of the number of bags anticipated by coordinating with each Homegroup.  Homegroups give between 1 or 2 bags collaboratively all the way up to 50 bags donated from one Homegroup.  We use this information to let each school know about how many bags they can expect. Start talking with your homegroup now!