Saturday, August 10, 2013

Help me have a Thanksgiving. (In which Amanda begs for money, a little... but not really.)

Thanksgiving is expensive when you are far away from America and your entire income is $300 a month, max, so we get around that by begging our family for money.  

I wasn't sure about asking specific people for cash for me to eat a turkey, but I wanted to let people know that this was an option, so I decided the best way to handle it would be to let you know that this is something that exists, and if you want to be involved you can. If you don't, I won't be any the wiser. 

It's basically a bunch of homesick American peace corps volunteers begging for money to afford pumpkin pie and a time to gather with other Americans and be thankful for our lives. Some will be all sad if they had to sit at their site and think about their families in the states, so we gather together instead. 

I've been told there is a way to pay directly to my ticket for Thanksgiving, but I don't know how that works. I will put the link at the bottom of the letter, and if you want to donate to PCDR Thanksgiving, feel free. If you want to avoid this post, that is all it is about. 

(Okay, I lied. The link is right there. I decided someone may have just decided they want to donate and not read an entire letter, so okay, that is also now an option.) 

From PCDR to you, my loving family and friends, 

Everyone can agree that Thanksgiving is a particularly special time of the year. It’s when you get together with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company and reflect on everything you are thankful for.  Here in the Dominican Republic, Peace Corps Volunteers in particular have a lot to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving is one of Peace Corps Dominican Republic’s greatest traditions and this year we are hoping to make it better than ever. It is really the only event of the year when we can all come together from around the country as a big family. Over 200 Dominicans, Volunteers, and Staff are expected to celebrate this holiday and we want to ensure everyone can spend time celebrating with their Peace Corps family without worrying about cutting corners or sacrificing on essential Thanksgiving traditions due to lack of funding.

Here in the DR, Thanksgiving starts bright and early with a 5k Turkey Trot and a morning filled with football, basketball, and other sports. The hotel where we celebrate has a pool where Volunteers can work up an appetite worthy of Thanksgiving before the big meal. Dinner includes all the classics – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and desserts galore. Baking teams tasked with creating all the traditional desserts stay with host families in the capital before the big day turning out enough Pecan, Pumpkin, and Apple pies to satisfy everyone. After gorging on all the tastes of America, Volunteers participate in the famous talent show and the day culminates with an all-night dance party.

The truth is that putting on this event is not cheap and the event is entirely volunteer supported. We do not receive any funding from PCDR. Volunteers pay nearly 10% of their always thinly stretched monthly living allowance for a ticket.  On top of the ticket cost, volunteers also pay for their transportation, lodging, and food (besides Thanksgiving dinner!). As with everywhere, prices have gone up and we are trying our hardest to keep our ticket prices the same. This year we’re turning to loved ones and family to ask for your support. Donations as small as $15 or $20 can make a big impact on our budget !

Thanks to friends and family who donated to Thanksgiving 2012, we were able to provide the following services to volunteers:
Shuttle bus from sports events to the hotel where Thanksgiving dinner was served, allowing volunteers to enjoy the entire day’s events
Our favorite desserts! Including brownies and 3 kinds of pie - pumpkin, pecan and apple :) 
Extra transportation costs for our dedicated baking teams

 Planning such a large-scale event like this begins months before November 28th and includes baking and cooking teams, sports organizers, talent show hosts, ticket sellers, and many more PCVs who volunteer their time before the event to make it great – but we need your help! Consider donating what you can to help ensure that your Peace Corps Volunteer gets to really enjoy one of our best American traditions.

The Thanksgiving Executive Committee 2013

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