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November 15, 2016 Celebrate Thanksgiving and Write for a Great Cause! By Danielle Mahoney
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Guest blogger, Danielle Mahoney, has a special way to celebrate Thanksgiving that is perfect for the classroom. Along with honing their writing and art skills, students become part of a project that honors the spirit of the season.

    Are you ready to get involved with a very special writing project this Thanksgiving? Help me as I deliver hot meals to homebound seniors on Thanksgiving Day. Being a part of this special event is easy. Inspire your students to create handmade cards and write heartfelt messages that will spread joy and lift the spirits of senior citizens throughout New York City.


    Project Give and Project FIND

    Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Spending time surrounded by my family and close friends is a true gift. Add a few home-cooked recipes and it’s a dream come true!

    In 2007, I decided to create a new Thanksgiving tradition. I thought about how fortunate I was to have so much to be thankful for. I knew that there were many families who were in need and I wanted to help in some small way. I had heard about Project FIND, an organization with a mission to provide low- and moderate-income and homeless seniors with services and support they need to enrich their lives and live independently. They were hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for 1,200 seniors in the heart of New York City and needed servers. I was so excited to help! I gave them a call and spoke with Debra Escort, director of special projects. She thanked me for reaching out but explained that each year, she was fortunate to find enough volunteers to help out with serving. Volunteers would be needed somewhere else.

    Debra offered me a very special volunteer opportunity. She explained that she needed drivers to deliver 300 hot meals to homebound seniors. Without drivers, the seniors would go hungry, as most support services would be closed on Thanksgiving Day. She informed me that along with the hot meal, I would also be delivering a gift bag to the seniors. I thought this was such a nice treat. When I heard what was inside, I almost cried. Debra explained to me that the gift was actually something very simple. Food.


     



    You see, inside each gift bag was an assortment of dry goods and fruit — food that could be prepared with ease the next day. Most support services would continue to be closed on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Without this “gift,” the seniors would go hungry. With a lump in my throat, I agreed to become a driver that year, and I have been a volunteer driver with Project FIND ever since.

    That first year, I invited my students to make a few simple cards for me to take along on my deliveries. It wasn’t long before I realized just how important this Thanksgiving project really was. I was touched and saddened, as I visited the seniors and saw that so many of them were alone on Thanksgiving. I wanted to become involved with this work again in the future, but I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. And so, I reached out to my teacher friends, and together we started Project Give. Beautiful cards have been made and delivered ever since.

    Check out the smiles that my volunteer friends, Elaine Long and her daughter Julia, and my niece Olivia Collado and I got to see first-hand during our deliveries last year.



    Your cards really do provide “hugs” to thousands of seniors. Thank you for taking the time to do such important work!




     

    The Power of Writing


    So many of you have become involved with Project Give over the years. Your time, creativity and generosity have made all the difference. With your help, we’ve collected thousands and thousands of handwritten cards from all over the world. Incredible! Check out The Power of Writing to view examples of student work and the journey the cards made to the seniors on Thanksgivings past.
     


    Guidelines for Making Cards


     

     
    Are you excited to get started? I can’t wait to receive your cards in the mail! Please follow these simple guidelines and let the card making begin!

    *    Greeting: "Dear Friend" or "Dear Senior."
    *    Have students introduce themselves, but please leave out last names.
    *    Encourage students to write about their families and their holiday traditions.
    *    Students can write about their favorite subject, book, sport or activity.
     
    *    Remind the seniors to enjoy the delicious meal and let them know that they are not alone.
    *    Please include a bright, colorful illustration.
    *    Keep it brief and sweet.
    *    Make sure the writing is legible! (Seniors have an easier time reading larger print on light backgrounds!)
    *    Get creative and have fun! Please mail your cards to:

    Project Give
    P.S. 212
    c/o Miss Mahoney 34-25 82nd Street
    Jackson Heights, NY 11372


    New Traditions

    It has been so much fun to use watercolor paints, markers and crayons to make the Thanksgiving cards look beautiful year after year. I am always searching for creative ways to make the cards extra special for the seniors who read them.

    I am fortunate to have the opportunity to bring mindfulness, the practice of bringing your awareness to the present moment on purpose with kindness and curiosity, to students and staff members at my school. Last year, many of the students decided to send kind thoughts to the seniors by including heartfelt phrases in their cards. Such phrases included, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be cared for.” The seniors loved receiving these messages of love and kindness. When crafting your cards, why not try including your own kind thoughts!? (When YOU send kind thoughts, it makes YOU feel good, too!)



     


    Project Find also tried out a new initiative last year. They asked volunteers to “FIND and FEED the Homeless." According to The Coalition for the Homeless, there were over 60,000 people in NYC sleeping in shelters, including 25,000 children. The numbers are overwhelming. Our team didn’t think twice about signing up to help!

    During our deliveries, we noticed a young woman sitting on a busy street corner with a sign, asking for food. I was quite nervous as I walked over to her to introduce myself. She told me that her name was Mary and I offered her a meal on behalf of Project Find. She smiled, thanked me and removed the card from the bag. Tears filled her eyes as she admired the beautiful artwork. She read the message inside. “This is amazing,” she whispered. “Are you sure this is for me?” she asked. “Yes!” I answered. “Happy Thanksgiving!” She shook her head and smiled this great, big beautiful smile. “Thank you,” Mary replied. Tears welled up in my eyes as I gave her a quick hug and we continued on with our Thanksgiving deliveries.



     

     
    So, are you ready for a new tradition? Have you been involved with Project Give in the past and want to participate again this year? Great! Here is your chance to make a difference! I look forward to receiving and delivering your cards again this year. Start your card-making project as soon as you can. Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Place your completed cards in a large envelope and mail them to me so that they arrive no later than November 17. [ed note: Sorry for the short notice!] Please remember to follow the guidelines and to read the cards over before sending them off!

    May your Thanksgiving be filled with hot food, warm hugs, much gratitude and lots of love. =)

     

    Danielle

     

     

     

    Do you have an Instagram account? Post photos of your cards and use the hashtag #projectfind
     
     

    Guest blogger, Danielle Mahoney, has a special way to celebrate Thanksgiving that is perfect for the classroom. Along with honing their writing and art skills, students become part of a project that honors the spirit of the season.

    Are you ready to get involved with a very special writing project this Thanksgiving? Help me as I deliver hot meals to homebound seniors on Thanksgiving Day. Being a part of this special event is easy. Inspire your students to create handmade cards and write heartfelt messages that will spread joy and lift the spirits of senior citizens throughout New York City.


    Project Give and Project FIND

    Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Spending time surrounded by my family and close friends is a true gift. Add a few home-cooked recipes and it’s a dream come true!

    In 2007, I decided to create a new Thanksgiving tradition. I thought about how fortunate I was to have so much to be thankful for. I knew that there were many families who were in need and I wanted to help in some small way. I had heard about Project FIND, an organization with a mission to provide low- and moderate-income and homeless seniors with services and support they need to enrich their lives and live independently. They were hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for 1,200 seniors in the heart of New York City and needed servers. I was so excited to help! I gave them a call and spoke with Debra Escort, director of special projects. She thanked me for reaching out but explained that each year, she was fortunate to find enough volunteers to help out with serving. Volunteers would be needed somewhere else.

    Debra offered me a very special volunteer opportunity. She explained that she needed drivers to deliver 300 hot meals to homebound seniors. Without drivers, the seniors would go hungry, as most support services would be closed on Thanksgiving Day. She informed me that along with the hot meal, I would also be delivering a gift bag to the seniors. I thought this was such a nice treat. When I heard what was inside, I almost cried. Debra explained to me that the gift was actually something very simple. Food.


     



    You see, inside each gift bag was an assortment of dry goods and fruit — food that could be prepared with ease the next day. Most support services would continue to be closed on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Without this “gift,” the seniors would go hungry. With a lump in my throat, I agreed to become a driver that year, and I have been a volunteer driver with Project FIND ever since.

    That first year, I invited my students to make a few simple cards for me to take along on my deliveries. It wasn’t long before I realized just how important this Thanksgiving project really was. I was touched and saddened, as I visited the seniors and saw that so many of them were alone on Thanksgiving. I wanted to become involved with this work again in the future, but I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. And so, I reached out to my teacher friends, and together we started Project Give. Beautiful cards have been made and delivered ever since.

    Check out the smiles that my volunteer friends, Elaine Long and her daughter Julia, and my niece Olivia Collado and I got to see first-hand during our deliveries last year.



    Your cards really do provide “hugs” to thousands of seniors. Thank you for taking the time to do such important work!




     

    The Power of Writing


    So many of you have become involved with Project Give over the years. Your time, creativity and generosity have made all the difference. With your help, we’ve collected thousands and thousands of handwritten cards from all over the world. Incredible! Check out The Power of Writing to view examples of student work and the journey the cards made to the seniors on Thanksgivings past.
     


    Guidelines for Making Cards


     

     
    Are you excited to get started? I can’t wait to receive your cards in the mail! Please follow these simple guidelines and let the card making begin!

    *    Greeting: "Dear Friend" or "Dear Senior."
    *    Have students introduce themselves, but please leave out last names.
    *    Encourage students to write about their families and their holiday traditions.
    *    Students can write about their favorite subject, book, sport or activity.
     
    *    Remind the seniors to enjoy the delicious meal and let them know that they are not alone.
    *    Please include a bright, colorful illustration.
    *    Keep it brief and sweet.
    *    Make sure the writing is legible! (Seniors have an easier time reading larger print on light backgrounds!)
    *    Get creative and have fun! Please mail your cards to:

    Project Give
    P.S. 212
    c/o Miss Mahoney 34-25 82nd Street
    Jackson Heights, NY 11372


    New Traditions

    It has been so much fun to use watercolor paints, markers and crayons to make the Thanksgiving cards look beautiful year after year. I am always searching for creative ways to make the cards extra special for the seniors who read them.

    I am fortunate to have the opportunity to bring mindfulness, the practice of bringing your awareness to the present moment on purpose with kindness and curiosity, to students and staff members at my school. Last year, many of the students decided to send kind thoughts to the seniors by including heartfelt phrases in their cards. Such phrases included, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be cared for.” The seniors loved receiving these messages of love and kindness. When crafting your cards, why not try including your own kind thoughts!? (When YOU send kind thoughts, it makes YOU feel good, too!)



     


    Project Find also tried out a new initiative last year. They asked volunteers to “FIND and FEED the Homeless." According to The Coalition for the Homeless, there were over 60,000 people in NYC sleeping in shelters, including 25,000 children. The numbers are overwhelming. Our team didn’t think twice about signing up to help!

    During our deliveries, we noticed a young woman sitting on a busy street corner with a sign, asking for food. I was quite nervous as I walked over to her to introduce myself. She told me that her name was Mary and I offered her a meal on behalf of Project Find. She smiled, thanked me and removed the card from the bag. Tears filled her eyes as she admired the beautiful artwork. She read the message inside. “This is amazing,” she whispered. “Are you sure this is for me?” she asked. “Yes!” I answered. “Happy Thanksgiving!” She shook her head and smiled this great, big beautiful smile. “Thank you,” Mary replied. Tears welled up in my eyes as I gave her a quick hug and we continued on with our Thanksgiving deliveries.



     

     
    So, are you ready for a new tradition? Have you been involved with Project Give in the past and want to participate again this year? Great! Here is your chance to make a difference! I look forward to receiving and delivering your cards again this year. Start your card-making project as soon as you can. Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Place your completed cards in a large envelope and mail them to me so that they arrive no later than November 17. [ed note: Sorry for the short notice!] Please remember to follow the guidelines and to read the cards over before sending them off!

    May your Thanksgiving be filled with hot food, warm hugs, much gratitude and lots of love. =)

     

    Danielle

     

     

     

    Do you have an Instagram account? Post photos of your cards and use the hashtag #projectfind
     
     

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