The Thanksgiving Holiday can have all kinds of meaning depending on your perspective: family, gratitude, stress, shopping, food, service and more. For me, it’s definitely a combination of giving thanks and giving back. Of all the days I volunteer throughout the year, Thanksgiving is my favorite. This year I was able to combine two things I love to do most: help animals and humans.
Watts Project is a non-profit organization set up to help animals and people in Watts and South Los Angeles, California. They rescue, foster, network shelter animals, and feed homeless, neglected and injured animals. I especially love the work they do because the area they serve is underprivileged. It’s an impoverished community made infamous when the LA riots broke out in 1992 – a part of the city that is easily overlooked by the rest of LA’s citizens. Watts Project’s founder Amanda Casarez is a saint. Please check them out and learn more!
This year they held an event called “Everybody Needs a Helping Hand: Meals and Supplies for the Homeless & Pets.” As soon as I saw it, I signed up to participate. Here’s how I did it:
BEFORE THE EVENT: I messaged all my friends and asked who wanted to join (11 showed up!) I sent location details and donation needs as well as coordinated a carpool for those who were interested. I gathered items in my home that I could contribute and made a few affordable purchases for items I didn’t readily have and wanted to give (like feminine hygiene products.)
THE DAY OF THE EVENT: We all arrived at the event spot and immediately got to work. What was dazzling to me was Amanda was not expecting the level of turn out. She was beautifully overwhelmed with love and support. So, everyone pitched in and we organized all the donations at various tables and quickly figured out a system by which we could all make a difference.
Some of my friends stayed on the premises along with many other volunteers, to help the steady steam of visitors. Some of us jumped in our cars to make deliveries to those who might not know about the function, or might not be able to physically get to the location. In my car: two friends sat in the back organizing supplies, getting them ready to pass out, while two of us approached anyone we saw on the street, asking them if they needed any supplies. It was awesome.
What struck me most was how most people’s faces lit up when we offered them…anything. You would never know how valuable a pair of socks could be unless you handed a pair to a man who didn’t have any and was preparing for cold weather – or a sweater or a jacket. Some people needed leashes and dog food – and one very sweet man needed vet care for his dog (which I’ll share with you later.) Others simply needed a meal for the day. The other thing that struck me was the people who didn’t want anything from us. They might be pushing a shopping cart, yet the clothes on their person and the items in their cart were enough. It was an overall lesson in simplicity and humility for sure.
THE DAYS AFTER THE EVENT: Now I’m spreading the word. This was really a very easy event to assemble and can be done anywhere. There just needs to be an organizer, a base location and people willing to help. Christmas is coming up, but really, it doesn’t have to be the holidays to do any of this. Helping people and their pets can be done anytime. After all, everybody really does need a helping hand at one point or another.
THANK YOU WATTS PROJECT AND EVERYONE WHO VOLUNTEER THIS THANKSGIVING!
I HOPE IT WAS A GOOD ONE FOR YOU AND YOURS.
LOTS OF LOVE,