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Joel John Roberts Headshot

Giving and Thanks Year-Round, Even After the Turkey's Gone

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ORGANIC THANKSGIVING
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The smell of turkey lingers in the house from morning to evening. The plate settings are positioned and the television channel is set for the first football game. America's annual day of thanks has started.

Editorial pieces and blogs spew their traditional message concerning homelessness in America - One day is not enough, they write! Feeding and helping homeless Americans should be year round. Who can argue with that?

Yet, before the editorial ink is dry, we forget these words of wisdom. Because we are already lining up for America's most famous day of shopping, Black Friday. We queue up in the chill of the night, some of us sleeping in tents like we, ourselves, are homeless. At least for one night. Our hope is to nab that razor thin flat screen television for a few hundred bucks.

Who can remember that helping the homeless should be a year-round effort when after we stuff our stomachs with turkey and mashed potatoes we fight the crowds at the airport to fly home. More than 42 million Americans traveled this holiday season.

In most of our American cities, another group of disenfranchised citizens are sleeping on the streets in tents this holiday season. They started off occupying Wall Street, and are now trying to occupy America. They look like homeless encampments. And during America's day of thanksgiving, churches and compassionate people fed them too.

Feeding the hurting and hungry becomes a natural response to our day of thanks. From the average parent bringing her children to cook a meal at the homeless shelter to Kim Kardashian, and her crew of publicists, serving a Thanksgiving meal to homeless folks in Los Angeles.

When you're thankful for your own blessings, you just want to bless others. Local restaurants, like Pink Taco in Los Angeles, opened their doors to homeless persons. Along with faith groups across the country.

It just feels good. To be home with the family. To eat a banquet of food fit for a Royal Family. To volunteer and help those who are less fortunate.

But when the leftovers are all eaten and the relatives have safely traveled home, when Thanksgiving is over, Americans living on the streets are still struggling with hunger and homelessness.

For those of us on the front lines of helping homeless Americans, Thanksgiving day is celebrated every time we help move a homeless adult or family into their new apartment.

Like Sam, who is a disabled man who lived in a vehicle on the streets of Venice, California for twenty years. This past Thanksgiving week, he moved into his very own apartment, filled with furniture, linens, place settings, and a dining room table for his first Thanksgiving meal in his own home in two decades.

Now that is what I called Thanksgiving year-round.

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