Thanksgiving Traditions: Giving Back on Thanksgiving

Gabby Kepnes

While most families gather at the dinner table to feast on turkey and a fall-themed meal, the Rosenzweigs, Ben (10), Jacob (10), and Rebecca (9), spend Thanksgivings serving low-income and homeless people in lower Manhattan.
Ben, Jacob, and Rebecca joined an organization called Education Alliance to create their own holiday tradition when Rebecca was five years old and the boys were six. “The intention was to experience serving other people instead of having people serve us. We weren’t used to it,” Rebecca said.
One aspect that they appreciate about the experience is the various reactions of the people they serve, they said. “Some of the people are very appreciative of it, and some people deny the help, which is interesting,” Ben said.
“It’s important to know that you are making a difference,” Rebecca said.
“It has [altered my perspective] because there are a lot of drives that you can donate food and clothing, but they’re are not as many where you can interact with the people,” Rebecca said.
Ben’s involvement in the organization has not changed how he views the situations of the people he helps, but it does allow him to see the different lives from his own, he said.
The Thanksgiving tradition has become a part of their lives, Ben, Jacob, and Rebecca said. “It wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving if we didn’t do this, and it’s not only the money and food that helps these people, it’s the time you are giving,” Rebecca said.