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Give Thanks And Give Back

Give Thanks And Give Back

Article by Jennifer Bennhoff

Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle

During Thanksgiving, as we count our blessings, we can also find ways to use our blessings to serve others. Here are five ways to give back this holiday season:

The annual FrankTown Open Hearts Festival of Lights will get you right into the holiday spirit! The Festival runs nightly, 5 – 9 pm, November 18th to December 31st at the Williamson County Ag Expo. All proceeds benefit at-risk youth in Franklin. Volunteers are needed each night, so dress warm and bring your friends!

GraceWorks Ministries is hosting its annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot to raise money for food, shelter and support for our neighbors. Runners may enter a 10K, 5K or 1K trot. Volunteers are needed to set up tents, help along the course and man tables. GraceWorks’ community resource center also needs help with its Mobile Food Pantry, processing donations and working onsite.

Shoppers can make the season brighter for those struggling to meet basic needs through #LightTheWorld Giving Machines in the CoolSprings Galleria, November 21st – January 1st. Local beneficiaries include Catholic Charities, Tennessee Resettlement Aid, Angel Heart Farm, Achilles International and GraceWorks Ministries. The initiative has raised over $15 million worldwide and Nashville is one of 26 cities to receive Giving Machines. Gifts like books, meals, school supplies, even ducks, can be purchased, allowing donors to “give rather than get” through a vending machine.

Daughters of The King feeds 300 people every Thursday through their Feed My Lambs program. Volunteers are needed weekly and for a Thanksgiving feast giveaway on November 17th at 3:00pm at Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church. To learn more about ways you can help this ministry “serve God’s love, one plate at a time,” visit

Looking for something to do from home? Veterinarian Dr. Kathy Kunkel of Little House Animal Hospital provides diaper bags, suitcases, backpacks and supplies through Love on Wheels, her organization serving Tennessee foster children. As kids are shuttled from house to house, it helps them to receive letters of encouragement from a community member their own age. You can create “love notes” or make tie blankets to include with the children’s supplies. Visit to learn more.

Service opportunities abound in Middle Tennessee. Check out and to see how you can make a difference this holiday season!