Bring on the buttery mashed potatoes, roasted turkey and sweet pumpkin pie because it’s almost Thanksgiving, which means it’s socially acceptable to eat as much delicious food as you desire. Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday to gorge ourselves with homemade cuisine and uncomfortably expand our pant size by three, but rather a time to give thanks to all the things we are blessed with in our lives.

However, many people do not have the means to afford a grand Thanksgiving meal to share with their family, which is the reason the Illini Union’s Office of Volunteer Programs has created the Thanksgiving Care Basket Drive. The drive occurred from November 1st through the 20th and kindly asked people to donate one or two full baskets of nonperishable items that a family might need to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. The baskets are topped off with a $25 gift card that can be used to purchase perishable goods. The drive successfully collected 272 baskets last year. These baskets stop people from worrying about being hungry and allow them to spend quality time with their families.

Photo by Meredith Marcus

Thanasi Pesmajoglou, who works in the Office of Volunteer Programs, says that, “It’s a very well rounded effort of people who donate baskets. Academic and athletic departments around campus probably donate the most goods.”  Pesmajoglou continued to say, “It feels like we might have an [even] bigger turn out this year.”

Photo by Meredith Marcus

Giving back to your community is a great way to give thanks and show appreciation for everything you have in your life. Illini Union’s Office of Volunteer Programs offers students at the University of Illinois many opportunities for students to give back to others in need. The Thanksgiving Care Basket Drive is a specific example of giving back for the holidays to end hunger, but there are many more opportunities to give back to others who need food, shelter, or care.

For more information about volunteering at UIUC visit: