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This November, GreenShoots takes a new look at how people show gratitude — how “thanks” can be put into action through volunteerism, and how holidays of expressing “thanks” are celebrated on every continent with different cultural interpretations and traditions. We also offer a quick and tasty salad recipe (using seasonal fruit) to freshen your Thanksgiving table. Enjoy your holiday!

The Perfect Match for Every Volunteer

November is the perfect month to remember what we’re thankful for, and what better way to say “thank you” than by giving back as a volunteer! Think about your strengths and favorite hobbies for inspiration on what you can do to best contribute to your community. There is something for everyone! Use the ideas below to find a volunteer opportunity that best suits your skills and interests.

The Outdoorsman – Are you happiest in the great outdoors? Organize a beach clean-up at your fave surf spot, or talk to the rangers at a nearby park or forest about helping with trail upkeep. There are also many environmental organizations like the Cali Bamboo faves, TreePeople and San Diego Coastkeeper that rely heavily on the work of volunteers to protect local natural habitats.

The Animal-Lover – Are your best friends four-legged and furry? Consider volunteering at an animal shelter. It’s not all clean-up work! Rescued dogs and cats are more likely to be adopted if they are trained and socialized, and volunteers are often needed to help with this challenging yet fun and rewarding process.

The Handyman – Do you have a knack for carpentry or love working with power tools? Put those skills toward a very worthy cause by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The non-profit has been building homes for low-income families since 1976 and has chapters all over the world. Help add to their 300,000 homes and counting! Cali Bamboo has formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity’s San Diego chapter, and recently donated bamboo flooring, fencing and decking materials worth over $15,000 to the organization. These bamboo products will be used to build LEED certified homes for local families in need.

The Bookworm – Can you still name the children’s books that first introduced you to the world of reading? Pick out a few of your old favorites to read to young kids at an inner-city school or a public library. You can even offer to tutor young readers. With budget cuts still on the rise, overworked teachers and librarians would be happy for the extra help.

The Master Chef – Always whipping up new creations in the kitchen? Take those foodie talents over to a local homeless or women’s shelter and offer cooking classes. Keep the recipes simple, and the staff may be able to provide the ingredients. Cooking is a great way to promote self-confidence and a budget-friendly, healthy lifestyle. Learn more about how nutrition and cooking programs benefit shelter residents.

A Global Thanksgiving

While it’s true that Thanksgiving (commemorating the 1621 meal shared by the English pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans at Plymouth) is an American holiday, harvest celebrations and the tradition of giving thanks can be found all around the world. Here are just a few examples of these international holidays of thanksgiving.

Sukkot (Israel) is a seven-day festival when Jewish families construct outdoor arbors decorated with harvest vegetables to mark the Hebrews’ pilgrimage through the wilderness to the promised land of Canaan, which is modern-day Israel.

Pongal (Southern India) is a time when Indian families celebrate a successful rice harvest by thanking the gods, the sun and cattle. Traditionally, on the third day of Pongal, cows are decorated with metal ornaments and bells and entered in ceremonial races.

Yam (Ghana and Nigeria) is held at the end of the July rainy season, when people offer yams to gods and ancestors to give thanks for the crop.In Nigeria specifically, ritual dances are performed to honor the yam god, Ihejioku.

Midsummer (throughout Scandinavia) is a major festival celebrated in mid-June with music and flower garlands to usher in a good harvest. In Denmark, the holiday includes the burning of straw witches in bonfires in memory of the Church’s witch burnings of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Pomegranate-Persimmon Salad

Try this tasty and very simple recipe for a salad that incorporates seasonal fall fruits!

Dressing: Whisk 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 finely minced garlic clove, 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar, and a dash of sherry vinegar together in a bowl.

Salad: Combine 12 cups of fresh spinach or lettuce, 2 fuyu persimmons, peeled and cut into small wedges, the seeds of one pomegranate, 4 oz of soft goat cheese, crumbled, 1/2 cup of toasted pecans or walnuts, fresh basil leaves, and ground pepper.
Toss salad ingredients in large bowl, add the dressing and enjoy!!

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