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My son recited a Gandhi quotation at dinner.

“‘I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again,’” he stated.

“Getting inspired to give thanks?” I asked.

“How about Muhammad Ali’s?” interrupted my man Patrick. “‘Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on Earth.’ So get up and go do the dinner dishes,” he laughed.

“I always liked Gandhi’s quote about finding yourself,” I continued, drawing the conversation back to the edifying.

“‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ I think we should take that to heart this Thanksgiving and do some volunteering.”

The next day the research began, and that night I laid out some options for the family.

“I like the idea of exercise on Thanksgiving,” I began. “Work off some calories, help the needy, and then enjoy family at a holiday meal. Thanksgiving morning, the Pure Fitness United Run for the Hungry will be held downtown [unitedrunforthehungry.org]. Proceeds benefit Foodmobile and the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.” The 10K starts at 7:10 a.m., the 5K at 8:15. Adult registration is $35; 12 and younger are $23.

“Or we could go with Father Joe’s Villages Thanksgiving 5K Run/Walk that starts at the Museum of Man,” I added (my.neighbor.org). “Free beer garden, complimentary breakfast, and live music. Sounds like you, Patrick,” I said, looking at my man. “Their site states, ‘As Southern California’s largest residential homeless services provider, we prepare up to 4000 meals per day and provide a continuum of care to nearly 15,000 individuals every night.’” Registration is $40 for ages 13 and up and $25 for ages 6 to 12. It’s $3 extra for a timed [race] result.

“If we want to try our own culinary skills, we could volunteer at Just Call Us Volunteers,” I offered (justcallusvolunteers.org; 619-631-JCUV). “This organization serves healthy meals to the homeless, and you can volunteer to do a food-prep shift or a serving and clean-up shift for their Thanksgiving meal.

“Or we could go the hospitality route,” I continued, “show some hospitality by hosting two Marines for Thanksgiving [camppendletonasymca.org; 760-385-4921]. The program is called Adopt a Marine for Thanksgiving. These Marines only get about eight hours off on the holiday, and if they have no family nearby, we could be their hosts. We need to provide transportation to and from the base for them, also.

“If we’re too late to jump in on that, there’s also a Camp Pendleton ASYMCA Bicycle Giveaway in December,” I added (camppendletonasymca.org; 760-385-4921). “We can donate to help purchase bicycles for military.”

“I like the idea of giving thanks to those who give their lives to protect us,” added Patrick.

“Here’s one that tugs at my heart,” I admitted, continuing on with my list. “The YWCA San Diego County is a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and homeless women and children. Their site states, ‘We help women, children, and families break the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness and achieve self-sufficient healthy lives.’ Donations of grocery-store cards, frozen turkeys, hams, toiletries for their emergency shelter, furniture, and gently used clothing are welcome [ywcasandiego.org; 619-239-0355].”

“Front-burner that one,” said my boy, seeing my enthusiasm. “What about a clean-up San Diego effort?” he added.

“Surfrider Foundation organizes beach cleanups and the next one is on November 24 at the Ocean Beach jetty, meeting at the Dog Beach Entrance,” I explained (sandiego.surfrider.org). “I also found the San Diego River Park Foundation, which will be having a cleanup effort on November 25 from 8 to 10 a.m. [sandiegoriver.org; 619-297-7380]. ‘Help us care for Mission Valley’s premier native water-wise public garden,’ says the site.

“This one is for you,” I said, looking at my animal-loving daughter. “The Helen Woodward Animal Center has an AniMeal program that delivers food for the pets of elderly or disabled people [animalcenter.org; 858-756-4117]. I wonder if dogs and cats like turkey and stuffing...”

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