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A volunteer handing out a Thanksgiving dinner for charity.

5 ways to give back this Thanksgiving

The word Thanksgiving means “the expression of gratitude” — a readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness. It could be a warm hug for a lonely neighbor or a cozy blanket for a child in need. Helping others benefits society as a whole and it can also improve your health.

A regular practice of being helpful and gracious can improve your immune system, reduce stress and increase “feel-good” neurotransmitters in your brain.

This Thanksgiving season, cultivate an attitude of gratitude and consider giving back to others in one of these five ways:

1. Organize a drive. Find a local food bank or homeless shelter that needs food, clothing or other supplies. Designate drop-off locations at schools, civic organizations or local businesses. Use flyers, newsletters or local media to promote the drive. Collect the donations and provide them to the organization in need.  

2. Run a Turkey Trot. Turkey Trots are a great way to raise money for local charities while also burning off a few pre-Thanksgiving pounds. Runners can choose the length of their race — one mile, 5Ks and 10Ks are popular race distances. Most trots usually include music, food and family festivities. Start your Thanksgiving with this healthy dose of fitness and family fun.

3. Spend time with older adults. Some older adults may be unable to leave their homes or travel, forcing them to spend the holidays alone. Consider delivering Thanksgiving dinner to someone in your community or inviting a neighbor to your Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Volunteer at a local food bank. Volunteer to sort food, stock shelves, cook meals or serve food at your local food pantry.

5. Enjoy time with friends and family. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reach out to friends and family you may have lost touch with. Sharing memories and providing a supportive ear are great ways to help others. Spending time with the ones you love is also good for cardiovascular health, improves your well-being and could lengthen your life.

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