This Year, Start a New Tradition: Give the Gift of Thanksgiving

This Year, Start a New Tradition: Give the Gift of Thanksgiving

Date: October 20, 2017

Around the holidays, many people have a desire to help families in need and want to see their gift have an immediate impact in the community.

For Tim Wess, an area manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and board member of United Way’s Howard County Partnership, the United Way’s Harvest of Plenty program provides a very real—and very visible—impact.

“I think a lot of people wonder, ‘If I donate $50 to a cause, where exactly does it go?’” said Tim. “In today’s world, people want to see where their money is going. They want to see an impact in the community where they live or work. With Harvest of Plenty, it’s really easy to see that impact firsthand.”

Developed and organized by United Way of Central Maryland in partnership with local food pantries and other non-profits and governmental agencies, Harvest of Plenty will provide Thanksgiving meals to 4,000 low-income families throughout the central Maryland region this year. Families in need of assistance this holiday season can register for meals through the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline. By dialing 2-1-1, eligible callers are referred to more than 20 distribution sites across the region where they can pick up a complete turkey meal for their family. Thanks to the tremendous support of its donors and volunteers, Harvest of Plenty is now in its 25th year and is becoming one of United Way’s most visible programs.

“You know you’re helping families at a time when their need is highlighted because of Thanksgiving, and they might not have resources to have a holiday meal,” said Daniel Rettig, senior manager of risk management at Corporate Office Properties Trust and also a member of the Howard County Partnership board. “It’s such a tangible way to reach out and have an impact on the community.”

Both Tim and Daniel assist with fundraising for the event. For Daniel, Harvest of Plenty comes at the end of his company’s annual giving campaign—but that doesn’t slow the donations.

“A lot of employees have already donated to our workplace campaign, but I think Harvest of Plenty is viewed differently,” he said. “People are willing and happy to donate just a little bit more to ensure a family doesn’t go without a Thanksgiving meal to share.”

Tim points out that even though Howard County is one of the wealthiest in the nation, there are still hundreds of struggling families that register to receive complimentary meals. “Harvest of Plenty provides more than a festive meal. It gives families an opportunity to celebrate, be with family and create memories.”

Daniel believes it’s the sort of event that only United Way could make a success. “Harvest of Plenty is one of those programs that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for United Way,” he said. “They have the ability to engage volunteers and activate donors to help give to this important cause. I’m not sure it would have as much of an impact if an individual company tried to host its own program.”

Both Tim and Daniel look forward to spending the holiday season with their own families and hope those who receive meals via Harvest of Plenty will enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday as well. “Thanksgiving is such a celebrated event,” said Tim. “There are so many stresses in the world, it’s just so good to give families in a difficult situation a great day and to help them build their family network.”

“It’s so important because everybody is deserving of a happy Thanksgiving regardless of their situation,” said Daniel. “Harvest of Plenty helps provide that to as many of our local neighbors as possible.”

Make sure your neighbors and friends can enjoy a holiday dinner this year. Provide a full Thanksgiving meal to a family in need for just $25.

Harvest of Plenty would not be possible without donations from McCormick & Company and Maryland Food Bank.


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For more than 90 years, United Way of Central Maryland has been improving lives in the communities it serves: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County, Maryland.

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