This Thursday, families will gather at tables across America to give thanks. They will feast mostly on Turkey and all the trimmings, raise glasses to toast good health and happiness, and pay tribute to loved ones no longer with us.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that calls each of us to examine our blessings. Consider the roots of this word: thanks, which reminds us to reflect with gratitude on what we have and not what we lack, and giving which challenges us to share our good fortune with others.
In this spirit, I invite you to add a new twist to your annual tradition. Feeling blessed? Pay it forward. Give to a charity or organization of your choice with a thankful heart.
This year, I’m giving to Ranchin’ Vets–a new non-profit that partners with cattle ranches across our country to create employment opportunities in agriculture for returning post 9/11 veterans.
The organization was founded by twenty-two year old Kevin Downs who was inspired by his brother, Capt. Phil Downs, Jr., a veteran Marine with three tours of duty to his credit. A Business Management major at Mount Saint Mary’s University, Kevin recognized the employment challenges faced by returning veterans struggling to reintegrate into civilian life. “Our veterans have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country,” says Downs, “I wanted to be part of the solution.”
The non-profit believes the uncompromising work ethic, spirit, and sacrifice needed to be successful in ranching life are qualities ideally suited to veterans. Downs also believes that cattle ranching affords veterans a unique opportunity to discover peace through the cowboy way of life while earning a living wage.
In addition to job opportunities, Ranchin’ Vets assists returning servicemen and women by providing educational resources, a supplemental housing stipend, and a mentorship program with other post 9/11 veterans to ensure a successful transition into civilian life. “Nobody better understands what has been sacrificed for this great land than a veteran,” says Downs, “and nobody is better suited to care for Her. Veterans have answered the call to serve us. Ranchin’ Vets are here to serve them.”
Think about it. Then serve up your heartfelt donation–no calories; just a big helping of thanks-giving.
For more information or to support Ranchin’ Vets, visit www.ranchinvets.org.