Ever since 2007, Thanksgiving has been a time for Ohio foster care youth and alumni to gather together and share our voices, insights, talents, accomplishments and goals for the future.
ACTION Ohio hosts four or five regional “Thanksgiving Together” dinners each year.
1.) Purpose of event: As former foster youth ourselves, we want our brothers and sisters to know that they always have a seat at our table for Thanksgiving dinner. This was perfectly captured in a poem written by Danny Taylor..
2.) Attendees: Current foster care youth age 14+, and former foster care youth ages 18+ are invited to attend. Youth and alumni can bring one or more guests, such as their foster parent, caseworker, CASA/guardian ad litem, or the “chosen family” they have built for themselves after transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
4.) Dates: These early regional Thanksgiving meals are customarily on Saturday’s and Sunday’s during the first three weeks of November, with the Central Ohio Thanksgiving Dinner taking place the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
5.) Event Schedule: Here is a Sample Event Agenda, including the Volunteer Schedule.
6.) Venue: We are grateful to our regional partners to allowing us free use of their venues for this event.
7.) Meals: The way we orchestrate the meals can vary by region. In Central Ohio, for example, we are grateful to have the NCJW Columbus make and bring side dishes, while Kay’s Catering takes care of the turkey, ham, etc. In Southeast Ohio, Kiser’s Catering is our annual caterer.
8.) Desserts: We often potluck desserts or have pumpkin pie donations, because it is more affordable/sustainable than including this in the catering quote. It’s important for us to remember the need for small plates and whipped topping.
9.) Decorations: Several years ago, we received a donation from The Andersons, and used that funding to pay for Thanksgiving tablecloths and decorations. We use these items at several events. For our Southwest dinner, we are lucky to have Val Bairnsfather’s talents to create pumpkin-flower centerpieces. Here is a link to name tents for participants to identify their place at the table.
10.) Raffle Prizes and Other Giveaways: These vary by region.