A Thanksgiving reminder: Gratitude is the best attitude

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. “ — John F. Kennedy

Thanksgiving is a day for family get-togethers, football games and scrumptious feasts of fowl, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. But as this kick-off to the holiday season approaches, let’s talk real turkey.

After all, the purpose of Thanksgiving isn’t to fuel up for the pre-dawn door-buster specials on Black Friday. It’s to remind us all that gratitude is the best attitude.

No one’s saying times aren’t tough for many small business owners and their employees. But think about this: few Americans have been more impoverished and imperiled than the Pilgrims, who made seven times more graves than huts.  Yet they set aside a day to give thanks. As the late writer Eric Hoffer has noted, “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”

An appropriate way for small businesses to show their gratitude during the holiday season is to help the less fortunate. Poverty and hunger are a widespread problem in this country, and not just among the homeless. According to a recent blog in the Washington Post, a new USDA Economic Research Service report found that:

  • Ten percent of American households were not able to provide their children with “adequate, nutritious” food at times during 2011.
  • This translates into more than 16.6 million children — or 22 percent of all American kids — who lived in households that could not adequately feed them.

Here are some things you and your employees can do this Thanksgiving that will benefit others in your community, plus give you a sense of “wellness” that goes beyond your physical well-being.

  • Put a container in the kitchen or reception area for donations to the Michigan Harvest Gathering, where every $1 donation helps provide five meals.
  • Organize a food drive. The Food Bank Council of Michigan has regional banks in every county that can help you collect canned goods for local food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, hospices, domestic violence shelters, head start programs, after school programs, half-way houses and group homes for the mentally ill.
  • Volunteer with a local church or charity to deliver meals, pack pantry bags or serve food at a shelter. You can find these and other social services opportunities through your regional food banks and the Salvation Army in Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.

Or perhaps you want to ask your employees for suggestions on what your company should do and have everyone vote on the best idea. It’s a great way to promote teamwork and boost morale.

About Ken Dallafior

Ken Dallafior is Senior Vice President, Group Business and Corporate Marketing at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM). Dallafior leads BCBSM's group sales force, oversees corporate marketing and product development, and develops and implements key corporate strategies. He also provides leadership to critical sales operations such as agent relations and commissions, sales incentives and complex issue resolution for group customers and sales agents. In addition to working in the insurance industry for nearly two decades, Dallafior played professional football from 1982 to 1992. He is founder and board member of the Detroit Lions Courage House.
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