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Be More Than Thankful on Thanksgiving

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It's time again when we all sit around the table and feast on big meals after expressing our thanks. We are thankful for food on the table, our families, our friends, our health, our houses and cars and material possessions. Being thankful is all well and good. But this year I challenge you. After being thankful, look at the other half of the holiday, the "giving" part. Being thankful is easy. I challenge you to GIVE.

I am not saying to open your wallet and give money to some organization. I am not saying to donate to a homeless shelter or a food pantry, even though those are wonderful ways to give. I am saying, look outside yourself. There are people in need all around you. This year, instead of being just thankful, give of yourself.

At our devotions, we ask our family members what "act of kindness" they have done that day. Our younger children, Nolan, Talia, and Tessa are still too young to participate; our eldest son, Nicolas, and my aunt Rosemary share their acts of kindness. They range from grabbing a trash can for the elderly neighbor or giving up a seat in first class to a random stranger, to buying groceries for a person in line at a grocery store.

At the TEDx Conference earlier this year Thomas Morgan, a wealthy investment and real estate broker, told his story of giving. Events in his life led him to challenge his concept of homelessness. He had always thought homeless people were either alcoholics, drug addicts, mentally ill, or just wanted to be homeless. When he discovered there were four homeless children in his daughter's class, he investigated the problem and changed his perception. He started to think, not "what am I thankful for," but "how can I give?" How can I be a hero? How can I change the world? He challenged the audience to do 100 good deeds over the next year.

Because I direct a non-profit that builds schools and supports AIDS orphans in Uganda, I am constantly aware of how much "giving" can change people's lives. I've seen children, who would never have been able to attend school because both their parents died of AIDS, go on to achieve academic excellence and graduate from Primary School with honors. I've have witnessed the generous support of people across the globe, especially here in America. It has allowed the Nyaka Project to build free schools, a first of its kind library, a clinic, a school farm, and water filtration system for a village.

My wife Tabitha and I aspire to raise our children with the spirit of giving not only on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning, but all year around. So, this Thanksgiving, I do not ask what you are thankful for. I ask, "How are you giving?" What good deed are you doing today? I challenge you to follow in Thomas Morgan's footsteps and do 100 good deeds over the next year. And when you do, let me know what those good deeds are. We will celebrate them together and learn from each other.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays from my family to yours!