Thanksgiving is the kickoff for the season of giving. It brings out the best in many of us, and it’s a special time of year for a special East Bay teenager who has dedicated her life to helping those in need.
Now, she needs a little help from others.
Five years ago, when Aliyah Washington was 11, she and her family were working on a project called Christmas in Richmond. Now, she is launching a new project called Thanksgiving in the Park. For a 16-year-old, it’s not an easy task.
"On Thanksgiving Day, instead of being a soup kitchen-type of thing, it’s going to be a family kind of thing," Aliyah said.
She and her friends are cooking food to feed 100 people they haven’t even met yet, people who would otherwise go hungry on Thanksgiving Day.
"Our society, when we see homeless people, they’re not human; we don’t like to touch them," Aliyah said. "That’s not fair. We can be in that situation very fast."
That’s why she has decided to be a change agent in her community.
"They probably haven’t had that experience, going to a five-star restaurant," Aliyah said. "We want them to at least have that experience, especially during the holiday, so they can feel loved, they can feel needed."
Aliyah has been giving back to her community for almost her entire life. In 2012, that Chistmas in Richmond project collected toys for children. In 2013, she turned her holiday of giving to collecting food and clothes for the needy all the way in Los Angeles. Such projects haven’t been easy; donations are hard to get.
"We have two turkeys," Aliyah said. "Wish we had two more. Little things that could make a difference."
Her friends are helping. Aliayh’s spirit of giving is catching on.