Following our long tradition for the Thanksgiving holiday, last year (in Wheaton and Austin) the Foundation made donations of Thanksgiving baskets to 8 organizations, along with donations to local food banks (in both DuPage County and Austin). We donated a total of 106 baskets, which together with financial donations, totaled nearly $30,000. Contrast that to 2012, the Foundation's first year, where we proudly created 46 baskets and donated them to Milton Township and 4 additional organizations (Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Jubilee Village, TriCity Family Services and Wayne Township, with donations of nearly $11,000).
This year, 22 departments are represented by having taken a basket(s) in Wheaton and we ended up with 66 baskets to donate. 44 baskets were created in Austin and were delivered to Saint Louise House. In Wheaton, families served by these organizations will be getting Thanksgiving Baskets: Jubilee Village, Lazarus House, Random Acts Matter, TriCity Family Services and Wayne Township.
Amount of Thanksgiving Baskets donated through the years:
2015: 38 (Wheaton) 30 (Austin) Total: 68
2016: 38 (W) 34 (A) Total: 72
2017: 44 (W) 37 (A) Total: 81
2018: 46 (W) 38 (A) Total: 84
2019: 49 (W) 40 (A) Total: 89
2020: 46 (W) 40 (A) Total: 86
2021: 86 (W) 40 (A) Total: 126
2022: 64 (W) 42 (A) Total: 106
GRAND TOTAL OF BASKETS GIVEN TO FAMILIES SINCE 2012: 841
***TOTAL with this year's baskets: 951!***
Additional Thanksgiving initiatives through the years:
We've given grocery gifts cards to DuPagePads clients
In 2019, we provided Thanksging dinner to individuals and families served by Haymarket Center
Thanksgiving meals for a community that was hit by tornadoes just before Thanksgiving
For many years we donated frozen turkeys to Milton Township; we have provided side dishes, meal boxes and last year, pumpkin pies (which we will also provide this year)
Since 2018, we've helped provide hot dinners to families whose children are fighting cancer (through Normal Moments--see picture below of family saying grace with a meal we helped provide)
Along the way we’ve learned some things:
Because our VERY generous colleagues always provide ample groceries and other festive Thanksgiving items, we went from wicker Thanksgiving baskets to Thanksgiving laundry baskets! This way, the laundry bags stay sturdy and intact and the families have a useful household item they can reuse.
Certain departments are very competitive (and compete with each other for biggest and best... we’re looking at you, Legal and Compliance!). And we thank everyone who has participated through the years!
Some donors got the (very good) idea to create a whole Thanksgiving Day feast... breakfast food, Thanksgiving lunch/dinner and desserts. And some real kid-friendly items!
We’ve always gotten a great bunch of folks who help us check and double-check all the baskets and who have gotten very handy at wrapping the baskets in cellophane with big beautiful bows (it’s not as easy as it sounds!)
Lots of our folks AND HelpDesk guys have been helping us for YEARS to get the baskets to the Lobby for the charitable organizations to pick them up and in Austin, Amy and other colleagues have driven the baskets to the organization(s) being served! In Wheaton today, we thank Tim Bradley, Roger James & Erik Zellinger who got the baskets to the Lobby and then helped load them into vehicles!
Some Fun Thanksgiving Stats (Statista)
Thanksgiving became a public holiday in 1862
Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday in the U.S., according to a survey conducted in the second quarter of 2023; Thanksgiving had a popularity rating of 79%, followed by Memorial Day and Christmas
55% of respondents (in a survey taken in 2022) preferred to be home for Thanksgiving; 32% at a relative’s home and 13% at a friend’s home...
...and yet, according to a survey from The Vacationer, about 117 million American adults (or 45.21%) said they are planning to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The U.S. is not the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving. So do:
Canada (celebrates Thanksgiving in October which goes back to 1879 and the day to "give thanks for a bountiful harvest")
China (celebrates its fall harvest of food)
Germany (has its “Harvest Thanksgiving Festival”)
Grenada (commemorates the American and Caribbean intervention in Ghana in 1983)
Japan (Labor Thanksgiving Day)
Norfolk Island (since the late 1800s islanders have celebrated with an Americanized version of the Thanksgiving holiday)
South Korea (commemorates the first day that the full harvest moon appears)
Liberia (nearly identical to the U.S.’s version of Thanksgiving)
The Netherlands (Dutch Pilgrims were on the same ships that brought the British Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock, MA)
The United Kingdom (since 2014, one in six Britons have been embracing America’s Thanksgiving festivities)
Brazil (celebrates on the same day the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving—the last Thursday in November)
Barbados (the “Crop Over” harvest festival)
Ghana (its festival pays tribute to the endurance of Ghana’s ancestors during a famine centuries ago
Malaysia (the Kaamatan harvest festival)
Israel (a harvest festival known as “Sukkot”...the Feast of Tabernacles)