Giving Thanks By Giving Back

by | Nov 27, 2017 | Events, Featured

A quick summary of the history of Thanksgiving: In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. Since Bradford wrote of how the colonists had hunted wild turkeys during the autumn of 1621 and since turkey is a uniquely American (and scrumptious) bird, it gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice for Americans after Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

There are plenty of ways to give back if you feel so inclined:

  • Support the Troops
  • Invite Someone Over
  • Visit a Retirement Home
  • Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
  • Donate to Food Banks


Downtown Magazine partnered with Pastor Cody and Ashley Abercrombie of Liberty Church this Thanksgiving to help those less fortunate.

Pastor Ashley and her team were working with a local school to help several families who otherwise would not have a Thanksgiving meal.

When our CEO/Publisher Grace A. Capobianco heard about this she wanted to help. Grace has been a member of this community for 17 years, and in 2010 launched the much needed luxury lifestyle magazine dedicating the content to the diverse culture which is in Lower Manhattan.

One thing that is said often when speaking about Grace is that she not only serves the people and businesses of Lower Manhattan, but she somehow gets those around her to advocate for our mission too. Grace reached out to her close friends from Whole Foods TriBeCa and Gristedes Battery Park to see if they would donate a meal.

Ashley only asked that each person donates from a list of a Thanksgiving day menu; potatoes, turkey, vegetables etc. but when Grace called upon her dear friends at Whole Foods and Gristedes they each donated an entire meal for two of the families.

We were able to ask Ashley Abercrombie of Liberty Church a few questions about this Thanksgiving and the gift of giving back.


What does it mean for Liberty Church to give back?

Ashley Abercrombie: It is important to us to participate in what is already happening in our local community. There are schools, churches, businesses, non-profits, media and publishing companies that have been around for decades, and we are part of that larger story. Giving back helps us become part of the fabric of our neighborhood.


How did you choose this particular school and families?

AC: We have many teachers and educators in our faith community, and one of them, Liz Rivera, serves in our church’s non-profit Liberty City, that focuses on the intersections of anti-human trafficking, mass incarceration, youth and education. She has led workshops for young women who are currently incarcerated, a group at her school, called Be Brave, for young women, and leads some of our efforts as well. Teachers and counselors in schools are often the first responders for the next generation, and have the pulse on what is happening in the lives of families in our community. We approached her to ask if we could help, and she responded with a list of names.


What memory will stay with you when you handed the children these meals?

AC: We had the baskets delivered so that they came from Liz, which keeps things safe and healthy for the students receiving what they need, but she did send us pictures. We loved seeing their smiling faces, and we also love creating opportunities for people to engage their faith with their neighborhood, and that’s what will stay with us. The more we can connect people to our city, the better.


What are you most thankful for?

AC: The people in my life. We can go through all kinds of hell in our lives, but if we are surrounded by people who make us laugh, love us like we are, and inspire us to rise to the strength of our full potential, it makes it all worth it. There’s so much pressure in our world to achieve, to care more about things than people, and to put on a mask, and pretend like everything is okay, when it’s not. My husband often says, “It’s okay to not be okay.” He’s right, and we need to create space for the mess of life, and not just the highlight reel, and the people in our corner, who cheer us on and remind us of what’s really important, help us do exactly that.


What would you like our readers to know about giving back?

AC: Giving back is reciprocal. We have as much to receive from the person we are helping, as they have to receive from us. We’re not better than anybody else, and we are nobody’s savior, and I think it’s always important to remember that the ground is level, as we give. We are all human beings with needs – they might look different, but we each have dreams and desires, and the truth is, we need each other. And giving is easier than we think: Who’s already in our daily life, on our job, in our apartment building, in our school (or kid’s school), at the coffee shop we go to every day, that we can build a relationship with? Opening our eyes, right where we are, and seeing the people we interact with every day, can help us discover a need, and graciously respond.


We were also lucky enough to ask our donors to answer a few questions. First up is Rick Marquardt, Metro Marketer of Whole Foods Market in NYC.


Where will you spend your Thanksgiving holiday and what are you looking for most on this Thanksgiving day?

Rick Marquardt: I will spend the first part of my day at Whole Foods Market making sure everyone has what they need for a wonderful celebration. The early evening will be spent in Brooklyn at a vegan Friends-giving! Food and fellowship with kindred spirits who acknowledge that we have so much to be grateful for.


What would like to share with others about giving back?

RM: Nothing brings our team closer together than giving back to the communities our stores serve. Whether volunteering for a day or fundraising with an organization that does outreach for those in need on any level, it’s incredibly gratifying.


Tell us what your favorite thing about working for Whole Foods?

RM: Knowing that small well-thought-out actions in an organization of this scale can impact our world in a positive way, whether it’s in our own backyard or even at the global level like with our Whole Planet Foundation.


We were also able to talk to Eric Rivers, Store Manager of store #070 Gristedes, about Thanksgiving this year.


Where will you spend your Thanksgiving holiday and what are you looking for most on this Thanksgiving day?

Eric Rivers: Family. I’m looking forward to our family tradition and time together.


What would like to share with others about giving back?

ER: It’s part of life. Whether you give back with your time or help as we did with this Downtown opportunity.


Tell us what your favorite thing about working for Gristedes?

ER: Seeing my happy costumers. I love when they are happy and satisfied. We have the opportunity to do that in each store within our communities.


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