Terrific Thanksgiving Tips – Safety, Gratitude, & Inclusion

Thanksgiving is here and we want to share a few holiday safety tips so you can enjoy a safe and fun holiday. It is also a time to reflect on the things you are grateful for and ensure that all can partake in this family-themed holiday. Read on to hear from our staff and a parent of one of our program participants.  

Safety First

Our very own Patti Kousoulis of our Community Living Services program in Somerset, NJ wants you to remember the following when preparing your Thanksgiving meal:

  • Wash hands thoroughly when handling uncooked meat and keep it separate from other foods
  • Sanitize any surfaces that raw foods come in contact with
  • Turkeys should be completely thawed before cooking
  • A food thermometer must register a safe minimum temperature of 165 degrees inside a turkey before it is served
  • Be careful when slicing food and do not rush. Most accidents occur when carving and cutting too quickly
  • Burns are another common injury during Thanksgiving. The kitchen can be dangerous around the oven and grill. Don’t rush when cooking dinner; have a plan that leaves plenty of time to get it done
  • A note of caution is given for anyone who deep fries a turkey. This can be dangerous and cause burns and fires. Research the proper way to deep fry and use extreme caution. Frying a turkey should be done well clear of the home or any flammable structure
  • Make sure you take note of any food allergies your guests may have when preparing your meal. If guests are bringing their own food, be sure they are aware of the possible allergies as well to avoid unwanted exposure.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Bringing Everyone Together

We all know Thanksgiving is about more than the meal, so we spoke to Wanda Vega to learn more about how to make the most of the festivities. Wanda is a parent of a child with special needs and speaks directly to how she celebrates the holiday with your loved one that may have a disability.

  • Thanksgiving Food GiveawayAlways involve your loved one in the Thanksgiving and holiday festivities by showing them the importance of always sharing and being helpful to others, no matter what.
  • Make sure they understand that you should help those less fortunate without expecting anything in return.
  • Lead by example by always being polite and sharing a smile. You’d be surprised how much of an extreme impact you can have on someone’s day.
  • Take the whole family out to holiday-themed community events.
  • Surprise your neighbor with holiday card and special pastry, just to say Happy Holidays.



“Thanksgiving is the season of gratitude; a time when we all take time to reflect on all the good that we have in our lives. There is something to be said about ordinary moments that cause us to take pause and give thanks…but what about those extraordinary moments? I am privileged to be a part of something extraordinary and I am honored to have been asked to share my own personal celebrations of thankfulness for this season; everyday things in my life, things that I take for granted, but things that I am most grateful for.” – Kim Minerley, Camp Merry Heart Director

 Read this and other “Statements of Gratitude” or share your own at: National Feature: How Our Community at Easterseals Gives Thanks 

In Need of a Place to Go This Thanksgiving?

Are times tough for you and your family this holiday? Are you alone? Whatever your circumstances are in life this year, there is a seat at a table for you this Thanksgiving.

Here is a list of places in Monmouth and Ocean counties where the public can either pick up a free turkey dinner or break bread with their neighbors and fellow Americans for a traditional Thanksgiving supper at the locations listed below.


  • Lunch Break Soup Kitchen, 121 Drs. James Parker Boulevard, Red Bank: Dinner is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day; Call 732-747-8577 for more information.
  • Soup D’Shore at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 535 Broadway, Long Branch: Dinner is from noon to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day; RSVP to 732-222-1341.


  • Church of Epiphany Roman Catholic Church, 615 Thiele Road, Brick: Pick-up at 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. RSVP to 732-458-0220. Deliveries may be made upon request.
  • Salvation Army Ocean County Citadel, 1738 Route 37 East , Toms River: Dinner is 5 p.m.Wednesday.
  • Macedonia Baptist Church, 143 John Street, Lakewood: Pick-up or delivery upon request by 11:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. Call 732-905-3878. Volunteers are also needed.
  • St. Gregory’s Church/The Elks, 820 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach: Dinner is from 1 to 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Call 732-892-8105 to RSVP with number of people attending and if transportation is needed.
  • Lacey United Methodist Church, 203 Lacey Road, Forked River: Dinner is at 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. RSVP to 609-693-5222.
  • Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1500 Hooper Avenue, Toms River: Dinner on Thanksgiving Day with continuous servings to take place between noon and 4 p.m. Just walk-in. Call 732-255-4455 for more information.
  • St. Martha’s Roman Catholic Church, 3800 Herbertsville Road, Point Pleasant: Pick-up or delivery upon request by noon Thanksgiving Day. RSVP to 732-295-3630.
  • First United Methodist Church of Toms River, 129 Chestnut Street, Toms River: Dinner at 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Call 732-349-8155.
  • Simon’s Soup Kitchen, Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish hall, corner of Grant and Central avenues, Seaside Heights: Dinner from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Waretown United Methodist Church at the Waretown Volunteer Fire Company Hall, 117 Wells Mills Road, Waretown: Dinner from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day; RSVP to 609-693-3134 if possible, but all walk-ins are welcome.

We hope these quick tips help you to celebrate the holiday and here at Easterseals New Jersey, we’re wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

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