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5 Pay it forward activities you can do before Thanksgiving dinner

[disclaim]This is a sponsored post in partnership with H&R Block. All thoughts and ideas remain our own.[/disclaim]

We never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up. Sure, some years my mom made enchiladas for dinner, but it was never Thanksgiving in the traditional sense. As a first-generation Mexican-American, Thanksgiving was always a holiday that I wanted to experience more fully and I finally got that chance when I married the Hubster. His family did have had a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner with a turkey, stuffing, gravy – ¡todo! I was in awe of the meal every year, but what I remember the most is my suegra asking everyone at the table to say one thing that they were thankful for. It gave everyone a chance to stop and think about our lives and really appreciate everything we have.

Pay it forward ideas you can do before Thanksgiving dinner

With a family of my own now, our Thanksgiving dinners are a healthy mix of American tradition and Latino heritage. This means that we have turkey on our table, pero tambien, buñuelos, salsa and champurrado. We still go around the table and say something that we’re thankful for, but we’ve started going a step further and doing a few things in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. Today, we share five easy pay-it-forward activities you can do before Thanksgiving dinner.

Pay it Forward Activities

Thanksgiving Dinner Drive

Start a “Thanksgiving Dinner Drive” where your family can collect canned goods and donate to a family, or families, in need. Consider doing this in November, and donating all the food by the third week. For anyone who decides to donate money instead, purchase a gift card for a local grocery store so they can round out the meal with fresh produce and meats.

Collect and donate coins

Ask your Thanksgiving guests to save all their loose change in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Every time they break a dollar, they can save the coins in a container and bring with them to dinner. Take everyone’s collected donation to the bank and exchange for bills to donate to a charitable organization.

Donate household goods

Getting rid of household goods and clothing is something that my family does at least once every few months. Doing this right before Thanksgiving helps me de-stress because there is less “stuff” in my home and I feel lighter. Use these charitable deduction tips from H&R Block to ensure that you’re donation will be properly accounted for come tax season.

Assemble and distribute toiletry bags

We have a lot of homeless people in our town and neighboring cities. There’s also a new homeless shelter opening near our home. So with this in mind, we’re going to be amping up our toiletry bag distribution by a lot. We gather up all of our hotel soaps, shampoos and kits and place them in 1 gallon re-sealable zipper storage bags. We also add sanitizer, female hygiene items, and snacks. We take the bags to the parks, or anywhere were we see a need, and distribute them to folks who could use a helping hand.

Volunteer

Wherever you can, go and volunteer. It’s even better if your whole familia can go with you. We’ve done things were the kids wipe down books that were donated. You can also help at a food bank, host a dinner that benefits a charity, or deliver meals to people who cannot leave their home. There’s nothing like getting in the trenches and donating your time to help others. Remember to keep track of your expenses; you’ll need them come tax time. And if you’re wondering what it is exactly that you can deduct, check out this charitable giving infographic.

Thanksgiving is so much more than just enjoying a delicious meal with family and friends. It’s also about acknowledging all the ways you and your family are blessed and remembering to give back to others. It’s also nice to see that H&R Block has our back, so that come tax time we are prepared when we go in to talk to any of their 9,000 bilingual tax professionals. They’re just like us because when all we want to do is give back, they’re also doing the same with our tax returns. They get us a bigger tax refund! Guaranteed.

I hope that you’ll take at least one of our suggestions and bring more to the Thanksgiving table than just one of your delicious meals. I’m always looking for ideas too, so if you have any special pay it forward activities that you like to do during the Thanksgiving season, let us know in the comments below!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of H&R Block and Latina Bloggers Connect. The opinions and text are all mine.

Originally published on November 18, 2015. Last Updated on November 18, 2015 by Pattie Cordova

Pattie Cordova is founder of Cordova Media Group, LLC, a boutique social media consulting firm that develops and creates social media strategies for businesses. She manages LivingMiVidaLoca.com. In her spare time (what little there is LOL) she enjoys working out, hanging out with her family (two chiclets and a Hubster) and traveling.

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