With Thanksgiving break coming later in the semester than usual, many Belmont students are staying on campus.
Since it’s the season of giving back, many local charities are seeking help for Thanksgiving and even early Christmas events. So rather than having a Netflix marathon in the dorm room, Belmont students have the opportunity to get out and serve local charities this holiday.
One charity that could use college students’ services is the Nashville Basket Brigade, a charity that assembles and delivers baskets full of the makings of a traditional thanksgiving dinner to low-income families.
The Basket Brigade started with 10 baskets in 2007 and each year has expanded that number with increasing support. Last year the organization distributed 121 baskets, this year 275 families will be receiving baskets, said Benjamin Enos, founder and president of the Basket Brigade.
“By far, the best part of serving with the Basket Brigade is being able to give back to the Nashville community and help families in need enjoy a great Thanksgiving. Along the way, you get to witness first-hand people’s generosity and work with some amazing volunteers that are more than willing to give their time and energy to the cause,” he said.
Enos said that “the best way college students can help is by volunteering to assemble or deliver baskets.” Basket assembly will be on Sunday, Nov. 24, starting at 2 pm. Once the baskets are packed, volunteers will be sent out to deliver them to families throughout the Nashville area. Deliveries will continue until all the baskets are distributed.
If there is a student feeling athletic at 8:00 am on Thanksgiving morning, it’s possible to join the families who are getting a head-start on running off their Thanksgiving feast in the 5-mile Boulevard Bolt, a run that donates money to the homeless of Nashville.
“Great run, good cause and make way for a Turkey Day meal,” said Bolt runner J.P. Barfield.
There are 35 charities benefiting from the race this year.
“Race day is a lot of fun. There are people all along the boulevard cheering on the runners. There are people who dress in costumes. We have many serious runners as well as more recreational runners and walker,” said Abigail Reynolds, Volunteer Coordinator of the Bolt Steering Committee. “People enjoy doing something that benefits the community as well as feeling like they’ve earned their Thanksgiving dinner. There are people who finish the 5 mile race in 25 minutes and people who take an hour and a half.
Reynolds said college students should get involved for the same reasons other volunteers do.
“I love to hear stories about how someone got involved with a charity because they heard about it from the Bolt,” she said.
The run offers “race chips” for competitive runners and crazy costumes are readily accepted.
Holidays at Cheekwood
Students can also put their early Christmas enthusiasm to work at Holidays at Cheekwood, which begins on Nov. 30.
“Whether they’re creating a special holiday arts project, decorating the perfect cookie, assembling a gingerbread house or admiring the multitude of decorated holiday trees in the Museum, they seem to enjoy every moment,” said Barbara Peterson, volunteer coordinator at Cheekwood.
“Perhaps the most fun for me is watching them as they visit with Santa in his workshop or, almost equally exciting, as they experience a face-to-face encounter with Santa’s reindeer. All day long, there’s a smile on every face, young or old.”
Peterson said the volunteers have an incredible amount of holiday fun.
“Most of them say the day always puts them into the spirit of the season and often all the day’s smiles go home with them. Bonuses on the days volunteers serve are free admission and parking, a discount on purchases at our gift shop and the chance, before or after shifts, to go out and experience the holiday magic for themselves,” she said.
So rather than being bored in a dorm room, there are many opportunities for Belmont students to get involved and give back within their college community this holiday season.