Hunger, Health, & The Thanksgiving Project

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Many of you know Jill Smokler, a.k.a. Scary Mommy. If you don’t, head over to her blog and Scary Mommy Nation. She’s a mom, a mover and a shaker, and with her large, loyal following, she’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s a woman to watch.

Jill means serious business. Especially when it comes to her annual Thanksgiving Project.

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See those numbers? They make me yell BOOYAH and dance. I donated to Jill’s Thanksgiving Project via Paypal — easy. It felt so good (except that Paypal IS NOT helping Jill or these families out with their fees, which is unfortunate). After reading Jennifer Ball (The Happy Hausfrau) ‘s post, “Those People,” on Jill’s blog, I made a conscious decision to donate healthier food to local food pantries. Organic food. Even kosher and gluten-free food. Lots of things from my local Trader Joe’s on Ward Parkway.

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 2.31.15 PMCONFESSION: before reading Jennifer’s piece (which is scheduled to appear soon in Family Circle magazine! plus she’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post), I was likely to donate whatever was in my own pantry, and/or things I found cheap and on sale. Generic brands. Nothing super fancy for the most part.

That, my friends, is the hard, ugly truth. It’s embarrassing to admit it. But I know I’m not alone, because I’ve seen what’s in those Harvester’s bins at grocery stores around town.

Giving lots of food was good, but I wasn’t thinking; my own head was so far up my ass that I wasn’t putting myself in someone else’s shoes. Bottom line: I figured donating some food was better than donating no food. Yes, I gave canned fruit & veggies, pasta, peanut butter. But I didn’t consider fancy stuff, organic items, and things for those who have Celiac, or those who keep kosher. More hard, ugly truths.

I wasn’t thinking.

So now? I’m making up for lost time and teaching my daughters about the importance of donating, helping those in need, and reminding them that there are always hungry people who don’t have what we have.

And let’s not forget the quinoa.

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I donated LOTS of fancy quinoa to the twins’ school’s food drive! Plus organic & kosher cereal, organic peanut butter, tuna, canned artichoke hearts, organic tomato soup, ravioli, organic ketchup and mustard…

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And our girls helped pack up the bags. They schlepped things to school every day this week, and there was a contest to see which class could bring in the most food.

I don’t know who won. Neither do they.

But that’s not the point.

The point is they’re not too young to learn that they can help other people. That we should always help other people. And that we should help them in the way(s) we wish WE WOULD BE HELPED. Which means we’d want some healthy options on the shelves to choose from, not Kraft Easy Mac 24/7.

If we ever have to visit our local food pantry like Jennifer had to do, I sure hope we’ll find things like we just brought.

Finally, thanks to Queen Latifah for having Jill on her show yesterday, and for donating hundreds of turkeys! Watch the clip:


Donate now. If you can’t donate, help spread the word. Go over to Jill’s site and share her current Thanksgiving Project update status on your Facebook wall. Tell a friend or twelve. Blog about it. Spread the word far and wide.

Be good to others. And teach your kids along the way, let them watch what you do. Encourage a discussion about it, plant little seeds in those little minds and let them grow.

And remember: it’s never to late to learn. I’m still learning every day.


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  • Diana Adams

    Erin, not only are you an incredible mother, but you are an inspiration to everyone. This was such a great read. Thank you!

    Diana Adams

    • Erin Margolin


      Thank you SO MUCH for reading this, I know it’s a cause close to your heart as well. I appreciate any help spreading the word! Hope you’re doing well and I’m really happy you stopped by!

  • Kerstin Auer

    Erin, thank your for writing this, for spreading the word and for being so honest. “It’s never too late to learn.” Yes, exactly that – I’m learning with you, my friend!

    • Erin Margolin


      Thank YOU for stopping by to comment! Because of it, I’ve donated another $1 do Jill’s Project. If you feel like spreading the word again, I’m doing this through today as well ($1 for each comment someone leaves here — I sent Jill $30 last night for the first 30 comments so far, & will tally again at bedtime tonight!). Thanks for reading and for learning along with me! xo

  • Leigh Ann

    I’m much better about wanting to give and thinking about giving than I am at the actual giving. I need this push.

    • Erin Margolin

      Leigh Ann,

      don’t beat yourself up. we ALL need a push sometimes. Not just you! And I appreciate your commenting, it means another $1 for Jill’s Thanksgiving Project!! xoxox

  • Alison

    You are amazing!!

    • Erin Margolin


      Stop it! You are the one who manages to keep tabs on all of us and comment and share and love on soooo many people! GET SOME SLEEP, WOMAN!!

  • scarymommy

    You’re the best, Erin. Thank you, thank you, thank you. xox

    • Erin Margolin


      YOU are the best. You and Jennifer Ball. You’ve opened my eyes. I always gave, but shame on me for not thinking more. Ugh. Please please email me or call me and let me know what more I can do to help the wait list and help w/ the Paypal fees (or was another blogger able to get her husband’s help on the inside w/ them?)? I’d like to do more. Something bigger. Email me? at erinmargolin at gmail. or call me: 913.789.0962. <3

  • Jennifer Ball

    Erin, thank you so much for writing this, and for caring so much about “those people”. What you are teaching your girls is priceless. Also, please don’t think that what you donated in the past wasn’t “good enough”. Someone was able to feed their family with the things you gave, and that’s what matter <3

    • Erin Margolin


      The real thanks go out to you & Jill. Seriously. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all of this. I appreciate your kind words so much, but there’s a lot of lost time to make up for, and I’m happy to do it! Thank you for being so brave and putting yourself out there, for being vulnerable. I love quinoa, and will never forget now when I donate.

  • Andrea

    This is great, and I love your mindset turnaround. When we donate, we tend to give what we don’t want. But what we don’t often think about is that if we don’t want it, why would anyone else? When you give your best, someone else receives the best. Isn’t that what we try to teach our kids – to do our best?

  • tonyawertman

    I love everything about this. Everything. It’s all about giving back, isn’t it? You rock!!

    • Erin Margolin


      Thanks for your comment, it means another $1 for Jill’s project!! It is about giving back, and I’ve always been pretty good (I think) about that, but this taught me I can be BETTER. p.s. YOU rock too! xo

  • The Dose of Reality

    I absolutely ADORE your honesty here Erin. LOVE it. We just had this conversation recently about the fact that donating food is about so much more than grabbing the label free can of peas. You are truly leading by example for your girls. :)-Ashley

    • Erin Margolin


      Thank you so much for commenting so I can give Jill another $1 towards this! And yes, I’m trying to lead by example for my girls, but was only able to do so in this case b/c of Jill & Jennifer. I’ve always donated food, but as I confessed, it wasn’t always the best stuff. But– never again, now that I’ve learned this. My eyes are WIDE OPEN! xo

  • Amanda

    Very awesome of you!

    • Erin Margolin


      Equally awesome of you to comment so I can give Jill another $1!! Thank you!

  • Heather King

    I love you. I love Jill and I love Jenny. What a powerhouse of good you three are right here. xoxo

    • Erin Margolin


      You’re pretty much a powerhouse yourself! How are you doing? I’m sorry I haven’t done a better job of checking in on you since the accident, but you’ve been on my mind… Thanks for your comment, it added another $1 to Jill’s growing pile!! xoxo

      • Heather King

        Thanks for asking, Erin. No worries, too hard to keep up with it all! I’m doing really well. I truly am, no more soreness or anything. xoxo

  • Susan

    Love this and loved Jennifer’s piece, too. So inspired to give GOOD food this year for our preschool’s food drive. Thank you for all you do and thanks to Jenny for all she does!

    • Erin Margolin

      Thanks for commenting, for sharing the post and helping to spread the word! I sent Jill another Paypal donation before I went to bed last night for the comments on this post so far (there were 30 as of 10 pm last night, so I gave her $30 more!), and doing it again today! Thank YOU for being YOU, and for sharing about Jill’s project! HUGS!

  • Tara Marie

    Awesome! Donating Delicious and Healthy food!

  • Andrea B.

    YES!!! I donated, too, but I hadn’t thought about the special items people might need. I have done Kosher donations, and I’ve done veggies and PB and beans and whatnot, but I hadn’t thought about gluten-free or other stuff and so now I have. I am planning the same sort of donation this year and thinking how it will be helpful to someone, I hope. Thank you for this post. It’s important, as you are. xo

  • Heather

    Just want to say how awesome you and Jill are. As a mom in need this year I want to say Thank you and give you both a big virtual hug, Thanks to The Scary Mommy project I don’t have to stress about Thanksgiving.

    • Erin Margolin


      YOU ARE AWESOME for reaching out for help! I’m so glad you’ll be able to have a stress-free Thanksgiving. And for every comment left on this post I’m donating another $1 to Jill’s campaign, so spread the word! ;-) HUGS & Happy Holidays! erin

  • kayla stutler

    You make a great oint about kosher products. Ive become very good friends with a practisincg Jew and it can be expensive to shop kosher and healthy! I never knew this until i met this friend.

    • Erin Margolin


      Yes, you’re right! I’m Jewish too, but we don’t keep kosher. But I also have friends who are sensitive to gluten, and know many people who only eat organic… and so I’m kicking myself that this didn’t occur to me sooner. I’ve always given food, but this made me think about the kinds of food I’m giving. There’s no going back now! Thank you for your comment– every comment left on this post is another $1 I’m donating to Jill’s project! ;-)

  • Leslie

    Jill has shown us that one person can really make a difference. It snowballs and grows.

    • Erin Margolin


      EXACTLY! Jill’s got such a large, loyal following. I look up to her so much. I don’t know how she does it all, but I’m grateful to her for all the time, effort, and love she’s putting into her annual Thanksgiving Project! And thanks to your comment, I’ll be donating another $1 to it (spread the word, for every comment left here on this post through today, I’ll donate another $1 to Jill!)! Hugs and thanks for reading & stopping by!

  • Brandi

    Jill is an inspiration. Thank you for pointing out donating healthy items as well. Everyone deserves to eat a well balanced meal. I can’t imagine how stressful dietary restrictions must be for those struggling as well.

  • Lucy

    You’re both amazing! Thank you so much for all you are doing. So many families will have a better holiday because of you.

  • Robbie K

    I often take young mothers to food banks as part of my job and I would encourage people to donate formula (especially those for special diets) and baby food! Thanks for sharing this important message!

    • Erin Margolin


      You’re not the first to point this one out! Great tip and one we should definitely remember! And thanks for commenting because now @scarymommy:disqus officially gets another $1 towards her #ThanksgivingProject! Appreciate your reading, commenting, and donating the things that you do!

  • christine

    Commenting to earn another $1 for the fund. I already sponsored a family and appreciate your additional contributions.


  • Justaconfusedmama

    This is amazing that you are doing this.

  • Kim@Co-Pilot Mom

    Such and important message Erin – and definitely food for thought as well! I will remember this when I am donating this year.

    • Erin Margolin


      WOOT WOOT! @scarymommy:disqus gets another $1 because you left a comment here! you’re awesomesauce! Thank you so much for sharing, caring, and for being YOU. xo

  • Elaine A.

    You are such a good mother to teach your girls to give to others and to promote this cause as much as you can, well… that makes you an awesome person too (but I already knew that part). I just donated to cover a family. Feels so good. :)

  • Charisse Oates

    That is so awesome to hear. I am so glad you are helping your local food pantry out with such awesome finds!!!! And helping out with the Thanksgiving project is soooo great. I donated as well and wish I could have done more.

  • Julie

    I donated quinoa too!!

    • Erin Margolin


      #Quinoa to the rescue! Thanks for your comment, it means another $1 for Jill’s Thanksgiving Project!

  • ♡CupcakeKatie♡

    Thank you for this post. Our local Boy Scout troops just did *Scouting For Food*… We froze our little bums off… But we delivered bag after bag around town. Then a week later went back to collect.
    For every 8 we put out, we got 1 full bag. But, those awesome neighbors really helped our local Food Pantry.
    When there is a BOGO etc., buy one for you, give the free one to the Food Pantry. People are hungry All Year.

    Those of us that frequent ScaryMommy are still hoping more donations come in. People are still waitlisted. Donate of you can. Or share. ♡

  • ♡CupcakeKatie♡

    @Robbie K. Very good point.
    I often donate baby food & formula. And I’ve encouraged others to do so also.

    • Erin Margolin

      Cupcake Katie,

      Baby food and formula is HUGE! I’m so glad you stopped by to weigh in on this — it means a lot to me, and means another $1 goes to Jill’s Thanksgiving Project! ;-)

  • heidi

    We donate to a family each year. From food to gifts. It’s so important to be generous with whatever you have. Thank you for reminding us, Erin. And for being so enthusiastic! Love it.

  • Deborah Cruz

    You go girl. I Love Jill , she is such an amazing woman and I love you for your great big giant caring heart! You are so generous with yourself and your time and your heart. Thanks for spreading the word about the Thanksgiving project. You are doing good, mama. XO

  • Kim

    Unfortunately I simply cannot donate any funds this year so I am happy to be able to share and comment on this post. Thanks for being willing and able to donate what you can to help others.

    • Erin Margolin


      But guess what?? By leaving this comment I’m donating FOR YOU!! So you ARE helping @scarymommy:disqus, and sharing about her #ThanksgivingProject is wonderful in and of itself. Please know that sharing and caring DO make a HUGE impact, so THANK YOU! hugs, erin

  • carla birnberg

    LOVE THIS COMPLETELY. I know there was ‘need’ in Austin but it is so much more in my face in my new hometown. Im helping here as much as I can and applaud you and Jill, too!!!!!!!!!

    • Erin Margolin


      BOOM! @scarymommy:disqus gets another $1 thanks to your leaving a comment! Appreciate your reading this and spreading the word! xoxoxo

  • Julie Gardner

    There is simply no end to your generosity, Erin. I am, as always, humbled by you and your example as you point the way, yet again, toward being a better human.

    This world is a lovelier place with you in it.

    I still have the Thank You letter I received from the single mother and her son who received my donation through Jill two years ago – but the truth is, I was the lucky one, having the opportunity to step outside myself and give to someone else.

    Many thanks and much love to you, to Jill, and to the struggling families who will be the recipients of everyone’s generous donations this year.

    In the end, we’re in this life together and helping even one of us helps us all.


  • Kate Coveny Hood

    I already donated – but if my comment still counts, here it is! If not – then I’m just saying HI and that I love this post :)

  • Keely

    This is awesome and inspiring and such a terrific idea!

  • Katie Corbridge

    This is absolutely WONDERFUL!!!

  • Cristi Motto Comes

    What a wonderful lesson to teach your kids. I love it Erin and will be sharing.

  • Ivy Shih Leung

    Hi Erin! What you’re doing is such a wonderful thing….you continue to inspire me! xo

  • Wendy Bradford

    The universe runs on people like Jill and like you. Ours is a life of easy access. We owe so much.

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  • Christine @ Love, Life, Surf

    I love this post Erin and I love what you and Jill and others are doing. You are teaching your children such an incredible lesson and reminding me that I need to do more of the same. So thank you.