Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I still remember my first Thanksgiving in the U.S. clearly: I was in first grade and my family had arrived 8 months earlier as refugees, thrown out of Poland for being Jewish.
That November, I came home from school and announced that now that we lived in America, we had to have turkey. My parents had never heard of turkey (which is indigenous to North America) so I drew a picture of a big chicken. We have had turkey and celebrated Thanksgiving that year and every year since.
We had no relatives in America. HIAS, an organization that has been resettling refugees since 1881, paid for our 6-week stay in the Embassy Hotel on West 71st Street and gave us a daily food allowance of $35 for a family of five. I reached out to HIAS last week to find out what they were doing to help Afghan refugees and how I could help.
The Program Officer I spoke to said that right now 200 refugees have been resettled from military bases in the NY area with hundreds more arriving through February. The biggest issue they’re having is that the government-funded SNAP (food stamps) are taking 3-4 weeks to be approved because social services are unfamiliar with these refugees’ benefits. This means they are forced to spend money allotted for their housing to eat.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and enter the holiday season, I ask you to consider donating to a fund that will provide money for these refugees to buy food. Can you imagine a family being hungry on Thanksgiving? Even a $10 donation is deeply appreciated.
Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday because it’s such a great time of the year to take in all the good stuff in our lives and pay it forward. If there’s another cause or charity that speaks to you the way HIAS resonates with me, please donate to that.
I am deeply grateful that I get to do work I love with people like you and celebrate another Thanksgiving eating turkey with my family!