Be Thankful, Be Useful

I had a great line-up for you guys this week. After all, Thanksgiving is a food blogger’s Super Bowl, and no matter how long I’ve been doing this, the novelty of presenting new ideas and recipes for your holiday table never wears off. I mean that. I had so many things to tell you about — make-ahead tips, pie advice, some trademark rules for the holiday, a beautiful ceramic gravy boat…

But then Paris happened and gravy boats — along with a lot of other things in the news that weren’t related to Paris — seemed like possibly the dumbest things in the world. I haven’t posted since Friday because I feel like I should be doing something more meaningful. So far, that has translated to two activities: 1) Reading every possible piece of news on the attacks and 2) Waking up in the middle of the night thinking about all the people affected by the attacks. It hasn’t been a very productive week.

But it’s come around to this: Thanksgiving is next Thursday whether we like it or not. And what could be more meaningful than sitting down with our families and friends and expressing our gratitude for what we have today…right in front of us. All around us. Things that maybe we didn’t see in such high relief a week ago. For now, let’s appreciate what bounty we have — in fact, let’s make it the best-tasting bounty we can manage — and be thankful. I’ll do my best to help on that front in the next few days.

As for the giving part of Thanksgiving, and in the name of the goodness and humanity that I’d prefer to think about at three o’clock in the morning, please comment below or send me an email with charities or causes that might benefit from some DALS community support over the next few weeks. As I heard Louis CK say on a podcast recently, “It’s hard to be sad and useful at the same time.” Let’s be useful.

See you tomorrow.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Filed under: Thanksgiving

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What is 13 + 3 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)



Thank you for posting this Amanda! My kids are 4 & 7 and I have two nearly flawless (and acceptable) baby carriers just sitting in my garage waiting for some future life. I’m boxing them up and shipping them out right away.


This is fantastic Amanda and Rebecca. I just packed up two carriers and sent to Glendale.


Lovely post, Jenny. In the spirit of being useful, you and your readers might like to check out It’s a social media site that focuses specifically on helping to make connections between individuals who need help and others in their local community that can provide the types of resources they need. It’s a great way to find someone in your own town who is in need of your time and talents – or to recruit volunteers or donations for a cause that is close to your heart!


Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services (IRIS) is an amazing organization in New Haven, CT helping to resettle refugees from around the world. They are always looking for items for families who are just starting their new lives in the US. Here’s a list of the items they need ( and here is a great article about a family of Syrian refugees who they’ve recently helped resettle in CT (


Jenny, I had a similar experience to yours after 9/11- for about a week afterwards I’d go to work, and then come home and watch news coverage until it was time for bed. I finally realized that it wasn’t going to do anyone any good if I had a mental breakdown. Now I’ve learned how to pace myself with tragic events- I try to read just enough to be informed about what’s going on but I balance out my news intake with books, dog walks, family time, etc.

And those Thanksgiving recipes do serve a purpose! David Lebovitz, who lives in one of the neighborhoods hit by the attacks, had a wonderful post this week about the comfort he and his partner found from a homemade pecan pie. Maybe we can skip the new gravy boats this year, but let’s keep the pie!


I went to an event with the CARE CEO last night and it was so interesting to hear about not only their disaster relief, which is well-known, but also their long-term assistance in different countries through a strategy of education and economic empowerment of women and girls. She talked about how the zillion Syrian refugees are fleeing the very same terrorism that we are all now so afraid of. It was heartbreaking, but maybe by supporting Care’s work we can “fight the war on terror” in a more life-affirming way.


For a local option, SHARE the Project is a Hastings High School-based community service organization that sponsors an incredible Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless as well as monthly Midnight Runs (among other wonderful things)…


Write to your representatives. So many of our senators and governors are responding with fear, urging us to turn our backs on those in need. Remind them that many people in this country reject such an angry, hateful response!


My friend Chris teaches English as a Second Language at a local high school. Many of his students are unaccompanied refugee minors. My husband and I, along with Chris and his wife and a few other volunteers, take these kids on weekend trips into the mountains. Presidents Day Weekend 2016, we’re taking the kids to Crested Butte for the weekend to learn cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. These kids from Central & South America, Africa, and Asia have a blast. Our local Lutheran Family Services office, which helps bring kids to Colorado, aids in offsetting the costs of these outdoor ed trips. Sadly, they want to avoid advertising these trips or doing public fundraising because of hate mails and phone calls they’ve received recently. I’m sure they’d love some love and financial assistance for our little project.


If there is a link where readers can support this, please let us know, Alyssa. What a great program. Thanks for sharing.


I received this email from reader Sharon, who said it was fine to post publicly: “I am with you. In the midst of all the pain going on, it is hard to know how to be useful or make a direct impact. I have had more connections with Africa over the years. I love what The Warehouse and These Numbers Have Faces do for communities and youth. I also love businesses with a greater cause. Heading into the season of consumerism, I am very conscious of that as well. My friends at Sseko Designs ( are wonderful at sticking to their mission of supporting a woman’s desire for further education, and they have beautiful products. I’m going to be looking for more companies like this for giving. Share what you find from others, especially in helping refugees.” Thank you, Sharon.

Shannon T

The best charity is the one that suits *you* and uses the money wisely. I highly recommend using to search for the “best” ones, based on your interests and how they “rate” financially. (CharityNavigator takes publicly available info and puts it in one place for easy analysis). It was an eye-opener to me that some well-known charities use their money to pay executives rather than deliver services. CT helped me make informed decisions on where to place my $$. (note: I am in no way affiliated with CharityNavigator, just a big fan of their service)


Love this idea! Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Red Cross International, NAACP, United Negro College Fund, Toys for Tots, World Wildlife Fund, American Indian Education Fund


You are very correct when you said ” Louis CK say on a podcast recently, “It’s hard to be sad and useful at the same time.” Let’s be useful. Being sad will only make us more sadder, but being useful gives us a purpose and reminds us of everything we here in America take for granted everyday.
Very well written post!
oh btw, I am giving your slow cooker apple butter recipe a try in a day or two…