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Celebrate Thanksgiving And Write For a Cause!

By Danielle Mahoney on November 6, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Are you ready to get involved with a special writing project this Thanksgiving? Help me as I deliver food to homebound seniors in New York City on Thanksgiving Day. Being a part of this special event is easy. Inspire your students to create handmade cards and write heartfelt messages that will lift spirits and spread joy throughout New York City.



Project FIND and Project Give

Many years ago, I started volunteering with Project FIND, an organization that provides vital services to senior citizens in New York City. I was asked if I would be available to pick up and deliver hot food to homebound seniors on Thanksgiving morning. I learned that without this delivery, the seniors would go hungry, as most support services would be closed for the holiday. Of course, I agreed to volunteer as a driver. I invited my students to make a few simple cards for me to take along on my deliveries. It wasn’t long before I realized just how important this mission was. My heart broke as I visited the seniors and saw that so many of them were alone on Thanksgiving. I knew I would be involved with this work again in the future, but I couldn’t do it alone. And so, I reached out to my teacher friends, and together we started, Project Give. Cards have been made and delivered ever since.

Meet Edith! I had the honor of delivering food to her last year. Thanks to Project Give, she knew that students from all over the world were thinking of her. As I delivered her meal, I pulled out a handmade card from the gift bag containing pumpkin pie, canned fruit, and other non-perishable foods that would last her through the holiday weekend. I explained that kids cared, and that teachers invited their students to create these cards, just for her. Her reaction?

"Wait a minute," she asked. "You are volunteers? You mean, you volunteered to do this today?"

“Yes, Edith, I'm a teacher,” I replied. “But I do this because it's important. People do care. You're not alone."

"Oh my goodness . . . This kindness is too much. . . I want to cry," she said, as she shook her head. Tears streamed down her face.

"Don't cry, Edith!" I exclaimed, fighting back my own tears with a lump in my throat. I reached over to give her a big hug.

"Hugs," she whispered. "That's what I really needed. Hugs."

Shortly after this conversation, Edith held the card in her hands and smiled. Look at how happy your students made her!! Your cards provide “hugs” to thousands of seniors like Edith. Thank you for taking the time to do such important work!



Looking Back at Project Give


Find out more about how Project Give got started and learn about ways you can get your students to Write For A Cause.

You’ll find photos from past events, examples of cards, and a book suggestion to get you started. Please share this with your students to get them excited about being a part of this special day!

The Power of Writing

So many of you have become involved with Project Give over the past two years. Your efforts have made all the difference. With your help, we’ve collected thousands and thousands of handwritten cards from all over the world. That’s pretty amazing! Check out The Power of Writing  to view examples of student work and the journey the cards made to the seniors on Thanksgivings past.

Check out my November Book Picks to learn more about other great resources to bring into your classroom this time of year.


Guidelines for Making Cards

Are you excited to get started, but not sure what your cards should include? Follow these guidelines and let the creativity flow!

★    Greeting: "Dear Friend" or "Dear Senior."
★    Have students introduce themselves, but please leave out last names.
★    Encourage students to write about their families and their holiday traditions.
★    Students can write about their favorite subject, book, sport, or activity.
★    Remind the seniors to enjoy the delicious meal and let them know that they are not alone.
★    Please include a bright, colorful illustration.
★    Keep it brief and sweet.
★    Make sure the writing is legible! Seniors have an easier time reading larger print on light backgrounds!
★    Get creative and have fun!

Please mail your cards to:

Project Give
P.S. 212
c/o Miss Mahoney
34-25 82nd Street
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

So, are you ready for a new tradition? This is your chance to get your kids involved in a very special mission. I look forward to receiving and delivering your cards again this year. Start your card-making project as soon as you can. Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Place your completed cards in a large envelope and mail them to me so that they arrive no later than November 20. Thank you for writing for a cause.

Here’s to a very happy Thanksgiving.


Comments (4)

Hi Christine! Thank you. I can't believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner! The cards don't have to be very fancy or include lots and lots of writing. They can be kept simple. Fill them with color and lots of love. No worries if you can't fit this project into your plans this year. Please keep it in mind for next November! ;) Perhaps you can talk to your students about reaching out to a senior center in your neighborhood for a December project? You can make holiday cards for them, or decorate printable calendars for them to hang up in their rooms all year round. I know that most senior centers would LOVE to see middle school students (and their amazing teachers) reach out to their community. Let me know what you think!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your students! =) Danielle


This is such an amazing cause - you should be so proud!

I'd love to do something like this with middle schoolers to help them learn how to give back and show compassion with others.

It may be a bit too soon for Nov. 20 - is there anything similar to this going on for the December holidays?

Hi Alycia! Thank you so much for your kind words! I miss being a part of the Top Teaching team! (You are all so generous with the work you share here.) Wow, your class is incredible! Wonderful news!! Best of luck to them on their projects this year. Thank you for leading them in this great work. Hugs back at you! =)

Danielle, how amazing! You are such an inspiration to us all. My class will be leading the school toiletry and sock drive for the soup kitchen across the street from my school, and we'll be bringing our cards there. There's just so much need - and so many opportunities to help in our city. Thanks for sharing about your amazing efforts. It's great to "hear" your written voice again and be inspired. Hugs, Alycia

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