Thanks Giving


Yesterday I had the honor of joining my church for Thanksgiving. When I first heard of the event, the announcement was made for people to help cook turkey and sides as we worked together to feed those in need. My heart skipped a beat because I knew I wanted to be a part of this awesome event, but me and kitchen are sometimes at odds with each other. So I offered what I could: My camera.

Together with Mariners Church, both churches came together to host an event in East Los Angeles. When I arrived, I was so blown away with everything. Hundreds of volunteers came together to ensure that everyone who entered the gates of Calvary Chapel Montebello was treated with kindness, grace, and class. Thousands of people showed up to receive a free meal, food boxes, and a carnival for kids…and JD and I were lucky to document a portion of the day.

We documented many aspects of the event, but I decided to blog just a few photos of that made me particularly thankful…

Every child was given a box filled with candies and goodies…

Each family was given a box filled with everything needed to make a Thanksgiving meal at home…and then some more…

Crafts were available for kids of all ages…

Inside all the goodie boxes, toothbrushes and hygiene products were also included to make sure we weren’t contributing to cavities… πŸ™‚

This little guy wasn’t liking me too much….

Now onto my favorite part of the day…inside a large tent were racks filled with brand new jackets. I can’t express how humbled I was as I saw hundreds of children’s faces light up as they got to choose the jacket of their choice. If I had to guess, most of the kids haven’t had the luxury of buying a brand new jacket, so to see the joy as they tried their options on was incredible…

As I recounted my experience documenting the day with my mom later after Thanksgiving dinner, I became quite choked up. I told her stories of children who squealed with delight as they hugged their jackets with pride. I cried because I was one of those kids. Twenty years ago, I was on the other end of the receiving line, and to realize how far I’ve come from that point broke me. I’m thankful for the many souls who shared with my family back then…

This mother and daughter made me so happy. She explained in spanish that she came expecting nothing, but walked away with bags of clothing, boxes of food, and her daughter thankful for the many blessings…

…I walked away more thankful than I could have ever imagined…

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  1. michelle white

    November 27th, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    oh jasmine i can see why you became choked up I would too. You documented this so well and its very touching. Thanks for sharing such an amazing event.

  2. Gina Meola

    November 27th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Beautiful faces. Beautiful outreach. Thrilled you could be a blessing AND be blessed!

  3. Amy Clifton

    November 27th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    My tears began before I even read the first word! Those precious faces, so full of hope and gratitude…we should all be so pure and innocent. Beautiful post, J*.

  4. gina

    November 27th, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    thank you for sharing this! very touching. i’ve been at that end too and always try to give back what i can. i especially love the coats’ portion of this and how they got to choose one for themselves. how great is that!

  5. Corinne Primus

    November 27th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Wow, that’s incredible. What an awesome opportunity to be involved in something like that. Thank you for giving us a glimpse!

  6. Gladys Jem

    November 27th, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    this is beautiful jasmine. i work with children with disabilities so the day before thanksgiving we threw them a thanksgiving feast. it was the best feeling in the world to provide that for them. i’m sure you gave those children and their families the best feeling in the world as well. thank you for sharing this. you are truly blessed and definitely a blessing to many. xo

  7. Michelle Rose

    November 27th, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Thank you so much for being a part of showing God’s love to others. I wish I could have been there. Who knows, any one of those little ones could have been an angel. He knocked, you opened. I think your photography is amazing! Thank you for sharing!!

  8. Lesley Wong

    November 27th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    incredible event and awe-inspiring photos of delightful children. thank you for sharing this experience.

  9. Rhiannon Banda

    November 27th, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I’m in class stalking yoru blog as usual and I just got crazy goosebumps and tears running down my eyes reading this. We did this Last Christmas and it truly is one of the best things we can all do. Props to you Miss star. I love reading your stuff πŸ™‚ But ou already knew that! xo

  10. Kellie

    November 27th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I love these types of stories!! They make you want to run out and help the world! Thank you so much for your inspiring words and beautiful photographs!!

  11. Peyton Cooke

    November 27th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    That’s amazing. I’m crying and I can feel my heart melting as I look at these beautiful children. Wow.

  12. Dee

    November 27th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    You have a pure heart of gold. <3

  13. jamie delaine

    November 27th, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    So beautiful Jasmine.

  14. Lori Lee

    November 27th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    J* you have brought me to tears once again! What a blessing to be able to capture these priceless moments. The gratitude these children have for things that us sometimes take foregranted- such as buying a new jacket. I am truly moved. Thank you for letting God use you to document this day so well! May God continue to bless you in your journey!

  15. Leandra

    November 27th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Thank you for posting about this. Getting through these past few crazy months has been overwhelming, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to stop looking at others and their needs. Thanks for the reminder. πŸ™‚

  16. Ravyn Stadick

    November 27th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    What a beautiful way to spend Thanksgiving.

  17. Leyla

    November 27th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    What a wonderful way to give back! It’s really sweet of you and JD… and yes, when I look back at my past, and how far I’ve come… I feel so humbled and blessed for everything that I have today…

  18. Eileen

    November 27th, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Very touching. So many people are struggling these days. If we all just gave a little bit we could make a huge impact in those lives that have nothing. thanks for sharing the heartwarming photos.

  19. Jackie

    November 27th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    what a beautiful way to spend thanksgiving!

  20. lucy

    November 27th, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    awesome~ moved me to tears once again. I love the all black and white shots. I love the last shot and the one with the little girl with the white jacket. What an awesome church.

  21. Rachel Logan

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    what a meaningful and beautiful ministry. thanks for documenting and sharing your story, and for representing Christ in a way that reflects his heart.

  22. Rachel Clare

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Jasmine Star, I love everything about this post.

  23. Tacey

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    So moving. The true spirit of this holiday season really IS in the giving…Happy Thanksgiving from BC Canada.

  24. cassandra m

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I am sqqqqqquuuuueeeezzziinnnggg my computer right now…sending a big hugg to each precious child you captured. Thank you for sharing your story of the experience. My heart smiles big tonight.

  25. Pol

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    So beautiful. I have tears in my eyes.

  26. s h e r r y

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    I think you are amazing for partaking in making their days. It warms my heart.

  27. Alisa Greig

    November 27th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    thank you for sharing, just beautiful!

  28. Naomi Figueroa

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Wow, these pictures are truly amazing, and I LOVE those boxes your church gave out! πŸ˜‰ After reading all the "Black Friday" specials and talking all about presents and things during this holiday season, this post is bringing back to basics and is inspiring me to do something more, something different! Thank you!

  29. Nicole Benitez

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Your post brought me to tears. The joy and beauty in the simplicity that is praising God is wonderful, and what a beautiful thing God has given you to share.

  30. anda

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:30 am

    beautiful, jasmine. loved reading about your experience.

  31. Cecile

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Yep.. I’m crying.

  32. Lydia

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:45 am


  33. Regina White

    November 28th, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Jas I always love looking at your wedding photos but these are by far the most amazing photos I could have ever seen. You captured these so well. Just touching and awesome. Thank U for sharing.

  34. Andrea MariΓ±o

    November 28th, 2009 at 1:05 am

    OMG.. I’m crying πŸ™ this is too beautiful.. πŸ™‚

  35. Karen Slate

    November 28th, 2009 at 1:21 am

    soulfully beautiful … thank you.

  36. Lauren

    November 28th, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. What an awesome experience!

  37. Esther

    November 28th, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Jasmine, you are one true and beautiful person. You are truly incredible…because of your feelings and how passionate you are about other people and life. Truly, you inspired me. And choked me up at the same time! God Bless you and your family!

  38. Brandi

    November 28th, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Moving images. i was one of those on the receiving end too. many Thanksgivings and Christmases we wouldn’t have had a thing without the generosity of others. I try and do my best to continue to pay it forward.

  39. ronnie

    November 28th, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Okay. The jacket thing really struck a chord…. Sigh. Thanks for sharing!

  40. ciara

    November 28th, 2009 at 3:16 am

    This is beautiful. It truly touched me. Thank you.

  41. Sheila

    November 28th, 2009 at 3:30 am

    What an absolutely beautiful story you told, Jasmine, and those are some stunning photos you chose to blog.

  42. Katelyn James

    November 28th, 2009 at 3:43 am

    Michael and I stopped at a gas station on Thanksgiving Day and caught a glimpse of little man, bundled up and sitting on the curve behind the dumpsters…we offered him a sandwich which seemed like nothing when we thought about what we were about to experience… Food, family, friendships. The Lord has a way of humbling us. I will never know that little man but what a blessing he was. What a wake up call for us….if only we could live constantly with overflowing thankfulness and be reminded daily of how blessed we truly are. He is so good. Thanks for sharing jas, they’re beautiful.

  43. Julie Massie

    November 28th, 2009 at 3:55 am

    Thanks for the cry, Jasmine. ; ) But honestly, thank you for reminding me of the simple things to be thankful for this week…like food, warm clothes, etc. Seeing the faces of those children completely humbles me. Thank you.

  44. tish

    November 28th, 2009 at 5:07 am

    I love these faces!!! And your B&Ws are so beautiful. I was just looking through your earliest archives; it is inspiring to see your growth in such a short amount of time. (It was funny to see a heavy vignette on one old photo!) One thing I love about your photos is that your skin tones look so natural…not like the super bright whitish faces that many photogs do. Would you say that is a matter of metering…or more of post processing?

  45. Nicole Glenn

    November 28th, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Simply beautiful. πŸ™‚

  46. gina

    November 28th, 2009 at 5:37 am

    great to see such kindness and joy. it is a great way to start the holiday season.

  47. Tracy Jane

    November 28th, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Amen!!! God is sooooo good.

  48. Alexandra

    November 28th, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Jasmine these are beautiful!

  49. Rory Mole

    November 28th, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Hi there Jasmine,

    I’m so amazed at you Americans. You have built into your holidays a day of thanksgiving. I’m sure that thanksgiving means different things to different people, but I want to say thank you for sharing the spirit of your thanksgiving with us.

    I live in South Africa and we don’t have a thanksgiving day built into our official holidays, but my wife, Cathi, and I always have a special thanksgiving on Christmas eve. We have a special dinner just for us as a family where we sit down to thank the Lord for His goodness to us and enjoy the abundance of food that He provides. We are thankful every day of the year, but our personal thanksgiving meal happens on Christmas eve. We’ve been doing it for years.

    Once again, thank you Jasmine for sharing with us.



  50. Bobbie Brown

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    This post reminds me of just how lucky I am to have jackets and food….

  51. Tasha Prescott

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Yep, I’m a waterbaby. I hear someone saying they cried… I cry. It’s what I do. Jasmine, wonderful way to spend the day. My pastor always says everyone has a place, glad to know you’re sure yours isn’t the kitchen but behind a camera to share days like this with us! πŸ™‚

  52. Lisa Harrison

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I am a blog stalker but I never comment. However, I had to comment on this post as it brought me to tears. God bless you Jasmine. It warms my heart to see the smiles on the faces of these children.

  53. claire

    November 28th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Kisses: jasmine star, volunteer work, and always having something to be thank-ful for! (thank god)
    Disses: you made me cry;)
    I loved/love this post!

  54. Kaysha

    November 28th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Looks like the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving! I’ve always wanted to volunteer to do something like this, but I’ve never done it… thanks for the push to help create something outside of myself in this world!! πŸ™‚

  55. sarah

    November 28th, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    i have goosebumps.

    and tears in my eyes.

    thank you for sharing.

  56. Kira Lauren Photography

    November 28th, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Beautiful, Jasmine. Giving is so awesome, and it gives you a feeling compared to nothing else. We sponsor a girl in Honduras through Compassion Intl, and just a small amount of money feeds her and educates her every month. It has changed my life, to say the least. If every one gave a little more, like you, like your church, we can really make a difference in people’s lives. =)

  57. Trey Bohon Photography

    November 28th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    What a heart-filled post… Your the best J*!

  58. Suki

    November 28th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    What a great event! Helping especially in that time and season of the year is so important. Not everybody is fortunate enough to have everything they need. You rock for participating in such a event πŸ™‚

  59. melissa oholendt

    November 28th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I think this is one of the things I love about you. You are truly committed to giving back. Not a lot of people would think about it the way you do and I think that is incredibly special.

  60. oneshotbeyond

    November 28th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    delightful post!

  61. megmanionsilliker

    November 28th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    this. is what thanksgiving is all about. bravo. xo

  62. Don Hendricks

    November 28th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I am thankful to have discovered your delightful blog, and to share as an amateur your love of capturing images. Your faith is also deeply inspiring.

  63. diandra

    November 28th, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    awesome awesome awesome! i cant believe how well they pulled this off! and gorgeous pics! πŸ™‚

  64. Rachel Perry Photography

    November 29th, 2009 at 1:08 am

    What a great day! It’s so important to give freely from the heart.

  65. Lisa H. Chang

    November 29th, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Wow ~ Thanks so much for sharing what your church did for Thanksgiving! I’m so impressed by the generosity that was necessary to make something like this happen!

  66. Ashley

    November 29th, 2009 at 3:56 am

    Amazing! Just the post I needed to read. Totally tearing up now.

  67. Gina

    November 29th, 2009 at 4:06 am

    This is the most amazing post I have read…my heart goes out to evey one of those smiling kids…now I must go upstairs and hug and kiss my own kids who are tucked warm in their beds and go to sleep being thankful that they are.
    Thank you for a wake up call in being gratefull for the things we have instead of complaining about the things we dont!!

  68. Feuza

    November 29th, 2009 at 4:42 am

    How precious! love these shots Jas, and small world I attend CCOB here in NJ, very cool, God Bless you and shine one girlfriend

  69. Harmony Loves

    November 29th, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Oh Jasmine! These are beautiful images of beautiful people. That was me 20 years ago. Great to see people give back. You are gorgeous inside and out!

  70. Helen Criston Kelleher

    November 29th, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Jasmine, you are such a blessing and an inspiration. Love the faces of these precious children. What a meaningful way to celebrate the day. God bless you and your family.

  71. Patricia Wallace

    November 29th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Beautiful….. people helping others, isn’t that really what it is all about.

  72. Otto Rascon

    November 29th, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Jasmine, you are awesome. God bless you!

  73. Jeanette

    November 29th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I can imagine how rewarding that must’ve been.

  74. JΓ©

    November 29th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Aaaw I love this! I love children and the smiles on their faces this just utterly warmed my heart.

    P.S. Was that little boy hold up a cross at you when you tried to take his picture? lol Too cute.

  75. mindy

    November 29th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Now, more than ever, we need to dig down and "give"…and it is hard when all of us are struggling, even if it is just a little bit. Thank you Jasmine for showing the joy in giving!

  76. Ginger Murray

    November 29th, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    You have reconfirmed in my heart that using our gifts for others (money, talents) or just giving what we have, is such a good thing… It’s a great reminder… thank you for the photos. Blessings to you this season.

  77. Olukayode Martins

    November 30th, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Nice write up. Your article has inspired me to try at give back to my community. Am based in Nigeria and a lot of kids need this kind of support.

  78. Kim Cleaton

    November 30th, 2009 at 11:47 am

    So, so lovely. And so many smiling faces!

  79. Linda DiDomenico

    November 30th, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    May God continue to do a good work in you so you can continue to share His love!

  80. Jessie Thompson

    November 30th, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    I am a firm believer that you get what you give in this world! What a special day for them (and you!). God Bless.

  81. Ian

    November 30th, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    What a wonderful way to spread His love. Thank you for sharing the event with all of us

  82. fiona andersen

    November 30th, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Oh I just cried… AGAIN… How precious is the gift of giving!!

  83. Anne Nunn Photographers

    November 30th, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    oh I cry. πŸ™ Thank you for sharing Jasmine.

  84. Cindy Utterback Photography

    November 30th, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Tears & Kleenex… Beautiful!

  85. Danielle

    December 1st, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Sniff! Sniff! BEAUTIFUL!!

  86. Aaron V

    December 1st, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    These pics gave me a lump in my throat. Thanks for sharing this Jasmine…..

  87. amanda thiessen

    December 1st, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    so amazing! thank you for sharing

  88. Elisabeth

    December 1st, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Jasmine – That is amazing! And I had no idea you went to a Calvary Chapel πŸ™‚ So do we – just in a different state lol. Glad you had a good thanksgiving and I love the idea!

  89. MattDJ

    December 1st, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    LOVE this post. Convicting and a blessing all at once. Thanks for writing it Jasmine! πŸ™‚

  90. KrisD Mauga

    December 2nd, 2009 at 1:24 am

    I love that you did this! It’s so great to give back!!!

  91. Rosaura Sandoval

    December 2nd, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    You have such a big heart and are so wonderful. Thanks again for sharing your stories and talent. You made me happy and teary-eyed with this post. I too was one of those kids on the other side of the line back in the day…. Gracias!

  92. Brian Carter

    December 3rd, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Jasmine, you have guts. I need to take your lead. I was working with Mercy House, a non-profit that supports the homeless year round, but especially during the cold winter months by providing shelter. We were also handing out clothing and I so badly wanted to capture the expressions on the childrens faces, I wanted to run to my car, grab my camera, put pictures on my blog, Facebook, anywhere it would be seen, so that people could be inspired to help during this season. I chickened out, I didn’t grab my camera, I didn’t want to rock the boat. I need to take a page out of your book and get a little more brave. These pictures are amazing, the look that these kids have…priceless. If anyone is looking for an opportunity like this please contact me, Mercy House is constantly in need of volunteers to serve food, pass out clothing, set up bedding etc. Thanks for the inspiration Jasmine πŸ™‚

    Best Regards,

    Brian Carter
    (626) 383-1432

  93. David

    December 3rd, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    so awesome to see these pics. I’m so proud of your participation in this. Miss you and JD but we’ll be seeing you soon!!

  94. joyce K.

    December 3rd, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    jasmine thank you so much for sharing this. It broke me when you said that 20 years ago you were on the recieving end. I know what that’s like. Growing up times were tough for my single mom and I. It’s amazing what happens when you take risks and put your trust in the Lord as you make the effort to make your life what you want it.
    Keep rockin’ the shutter chica!

  95. hayley thompson

    December 5th, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Jasmine, this would have to be the absolutely BEST blog of the year!! Whilst it is great to read about peoples weddings and ect – like you, I come from the ‘other side’. Although the australian system is better than the US, I was in foster care, and I know what it is to struggle. I pay it forward by photographing foster families whenever I can!! Please dont ever stop giving back Jasmine, and I look forward to more blogs such as this one – you never know, the photo of the girl that you take at one of these functions, could grow up to be someone inspirational in 20 years time!!!!

  96. Elaine Carter

    December 6th, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. What a beautiful day spent giving. This touched my heart deeply. Priceless images and I could truly see the thankfulness in the eyes. Wow, I can’t stop crying, to see this kind of joy is heartwarming.

  97. Denny

    December 7th, 2009 at 1:53 am

    Thank you for sharing such of this lovely moment..

  98. Traci

    December 13th, 2009 at 5:59 am

    So awesome to see your photos of the event. I work at Mariners and couldn’t go to the event, but I cooked a turkey and dropped it off on Thanksgiving morning. So wonderful to see the beautiful faces of those kids.