As we sat in traffic on our way to church yesterday, I reminded JD Saks Fifth Avenue was having a shoe sale. You know, just in case he wanted to surprise me with anything in the foreseeable future. We spoke about shopping, finding a last-minute recipe for creamed corn, and Black Friday. Our moods were light and–dare I say it–almost trivial as we made our way to church.

Located in the outskirts of East Los Angeles, our church aims to help the community in every capacity. During this holiday season, it seems like the economic downturn has affected the working class community the hardest, so our church hosted a free Thanksgiving dinner, and also gave away clothes and boxes of food for those in need. JD and I volunteered to photograph the event and while I thought I knew what was in store, I had no idea. At all. When we arrived, literally thousands of people waited in line for a hot meal and church donations.

With my camera pressed against my face, I cried.

I cried for the thousands of people in need this holiday season. I cried for the children excitedly squeezing their new toys. And, moreso, I cried for my selfish inability to be thankful for the things that matter. Not shoe sales at Saks.

Last night I was reminded of how blessed I am. I am thankful that I have EVERYTHING that matters in life: To be loved by those you love. And I could not ask for more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. Mike Paterson

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing! It is an awesome, and beautiful, reminder! Also, I know that there are so many people who feel this way… we are thankful for you. Definitely for your talent and that you share it with us on a daily basis. But more so for your heart and how you share who you truly are. Thank you so much!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Ashley

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Amen! Have a wonderful thanksgiving Jasmine!

  3. Nena

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    You are beautiful; Happy THANKSGIVING! =-)

  4. terri

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    happy thanksgiving jasmine !!
    i wrote about you on my blog today ….i am thankful to you and a few other fellow photographers for giving back so much to other photographers and spreading the love ……….. i aspire to be able to do the same someday …..i hope you and jd have a wonderful thanksgiving …..oh and polo too !!!!!

  5. Lisa Love

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    So true Jasmine!! I cannot express the heartfelt gratitude my husband & I have this Thanksgiving……of course in Thanksgivings past we’ve been thankful for God’s blessings but 2008 has opened our eyes even more to embrace and try to live by "the fruits of the spirit." Before I hit send & go finish preparing our turkey dinner, I want to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Tira J

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, JD, Polo and your beautiful family. We are all thankful for so much in this world, and unfortunately, for those things we also take for granted. Thank you for always "KIR" and for giving back to those in need. Have a blessed day! XOXO Tira & David

  7. SJ Styles

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    I was actually feeling sorry for myself today, thank you for changing that! Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. Brandon Williams

    November 27th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you and your family have a great holiday.

  9. Lydia

    November 27th, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    So so true! God has blessed us with much more than we deserve!

  10. kymberli q.

    November 27th, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    So true. Last year we volunteered serving meals to the homeless and this year we are sitting it out because I’m almost ready to give birth, but we will do it again next year. It was the best Thanksgiving I had ever experienced. Happy Thanksgiving all.

  11. Goddess Leonie - Creative Goddess

    November 27th, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    brightest blessings to you jasmine… for sharing your truth, vulnerability & heart so openly and lovingly.

  12. Feuza

    November 27th, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Oh boy, tears tears tears…so true, we need to stop and smell the roses right! it is tough times and have to be thankful for what we have cause so many have nothing.

  13. Amanda Key

    November 27th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. You are always so thoughtful. Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Paula Herko

    November 28th, 2008 at 12:08 am

    that is truly the best picture of Thanksgiving. It’s so much more than what the commercialism of the world has turned it into.
    Giving and blessing those in need is SO much more worth anything we could give to ourselves. We all have SO much to be thankful for… even in the valleys!

  15. Adalie Plain

    November 28th, 2008 at 12:21 am

    You gave me goosebumps.

    Thanks for this reminder. God is so, so good. He is incredibly generous and we don’t deserve a bit of it.

  16. Katherine Bowman

    November 28th, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Jasmine! 🙂

  17. michelle cunningham

    November 28th, 2008 at 12:51 am

    it makes me feel so small to hear and see the hardship that goes on around me. my problems are so insignificant compared to theirs. i am thankful for the dose of humility

  18. candace

    November 28th, 2008 at 1:03 am

    Can I ask how you think photographing the event is beneficial to those families?

  19. candace

    November 28th, 2008 at 1:03 am

    Can I ask how you think photographing the event is beneficial to those families?

  20. pam

    November 28th, 2008 at 1:17 am

    this is the reality we all live with and while some have more than others … i know in my heart that God blesses us ALL. i dont believe that some are chosen for blessings and others are not. God is simply presenting them in different ways. i prefer to thank God for the OPPORTUNITIES He presents us rather than to think he has blessed me differently than someone else.

  21. Tanya Jose

    November 28th, 2008 at 3:19 am

    I too have realized that this year is tremendously hard on a lot of folks including some of my friends & family. It lets you know that all you need on the holidays is your friends & family, good food & laughter…those are the best gifts ever!

  22. Cathy Crawley

    November 28th, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Awww, so true Jasmine! We are blessed 🙂

  23. cassandra m

    November 28th, 2008 at 4:01 am

    May God continue to BLESS you and use YOU to inspire others, like me. You make me want to be a better person…you make me want to make a difference. Thank you for that Jaz…

  24. Diandra

    November 28th, 2008 at 5:28 am

    One of the most amazing experiences of my life has been the trips we take down to Mexico. Our spanish ministry has been amazing and we take one day every couple of months and deliver things that we’ve been collecting. I cry every time. I feel incredibly blessed to help these people… they bless me more each time. It’s incredible. I’d love to visit your church… what a great thing you guys did! Isn’t that what it’s really all about? We have a small food bank at our church now, and with the economy like it is, we cant keep it full! Happy Thanksgiving Jasmine and JD… and thank you for all you do.

  25. Jen MacNiven

    November 28th, 2008 at 5:49 am

    I completely understand you! I went on a mission trip to Honduras this last year…and although it was a medical mission trip, and I was there to help deliver medical care to THOUSANDS of people who had not received any medical care in a year…I was instead blessed to be able to capture EVERY childs face and give them a picture of themself. To be so blessed to give them something I so often take for granted. My toothbrush, soap, clean water, food to eat, and to be able to reflect on my life with all the beautiful photos that I am so blessed to take. The simplest things can mean so much to those less fortunate. I hope we all can continue to give, and reflect on the blessings in our lives.
    Happy thanksgiving!

  26. Christina

    November 28th, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Great reminder! God’s reminded me of the same lately….my car got broken into and my purse and a camera lens stolen almost 2 weeks ago. However, that happened the same week that some of my favorite patients had a house fire. The dad saved their son, but then he couldn’t get out in time, and was in a coma for a few days until his heart gave out three days before my car incident. Now his wife is a widow, has burned hands, 2 small kids, and no house or anything that was in it. She is an amazingly strong Christian woman. It’s really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you hear someone in that situation actually find the words to thank God. So, this year, I’m even more thankful for all the ways that God has blessed me!

  27. Apple

    November 28th, 2008 at 7:21 am

    aww. Happy thanksgiving!<3

  28. tish

    November 28th, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Wonderful post. Wouldn’t it be great if we all chose to live with less (& give more) so that others could simply live?

  29. Fishgirl

    November 28th, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Whatelse can i say but, GOD Bless you!!! and thanks him because he has blessed you with a big givin heart!! Happy Thanksgiving.. we must live everyday as Thanksgivin day

  30. gabriel.ryan.

    November 28th, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    carlie & i are thankful for you 🙂

  31. Melissa ~

    November 28th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Awh…….as I scrolled down I was so looking forward in viewing the slide show for this great event. =(

  32. Jessica Cernat

    November 28th, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I teared up as i was reading your story. Its amazing how we get tied up with possessions (especially being in this photography world..) that we forget about whats important. I was at Frys Electronics this mourning and there was over 2000 people outside and i felt so selfish as these people were running with there carts to the TV’s and Laptops…How sad, but i dont think it will change 🙁 There’s always people that will always be possessive:( Have a blessed Holiday!!

  33. Diandra

    November 28th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    I wanted to take a minute and comment on Canace’s comment. I thought about this before I did, but I just wanted to say a couple of things. First of all, I had the AMAZING privilage of doing a shoot with you, and something that I dont think people realize about you is that you do not just take pictures… you interact with people and you really have this incredible sweet way about you. And not only that, but you dont just take pictures… you create amazing masterpieces. You have this talent to capture people at their very best and tell a story with each picture. The first time I ever went to Mexico, the people who organized the trip asked me to bring my camera and photograph it and I really struggled with it. But after doing this several times, I have realized what awareness those photos have brought to people. We’ve used them for so many things… including getting donations for the next trips that we wouldnt have gotten otherwise. And not only that, but some of those pictures have opened people’s eyes to what is going on in the world around them. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. And I believe that we should all use the talents that God gives us to serve Him and the people around us… and I believe that that is exactly what you do. There are some people that will never know the extent of what you do and I am just so thankful that I am one who does. So THANK YOU for what you do and the heart and attitude you do it with. (Sorry this was so long… that message hit a nerve for me, and I wanted to share some of my experience with you.) Have a wonderful weekend!

  34. Melissa

    November 28th, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Great post! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  35. Cherie yost

    November 28th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    we did the same thing at an outreach. It was an amazing day. Isn’t it a blessing to serve others?

  36. Matthew Saville

    November 29th, 2008 at 6:17 am


  37. Geanette

    November 29th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing.

  38. Caitlin

    November 29th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I agree with Diandra below, thanks Diandra, for articulating exactly what I was thinking after reading the comments below…

  39. G.E. Masana

    November 29th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Not only that, but Polo likes JD more too.

  40. candace

    November 30th, 2008 at 12:55 am

    as someone who has been on the receiving end of these programs, I speak from experience. I don’t like that my time of need is the subject of someone’s art.

  41. Sara Beth

    November 30th, 2008 at 2:50 am

    Wow, your posts always inspire me. ALWAYS – in my journey as a photographer as well as my personal journey to be all God has for me to be.

    In response to Candace’s question about how photographing that event helped those people I would say – as someone who also has been on the receiving end of those programs as a single mom and Hurricane Katrina survivor – perhaps those photographs don’t help those exact individuals but by viewing the story Jasmine tells through her gift as an artist those images just might inspire many more people to get out and get involved in their own communities to help more individuals who need a hand up, a word of encouragement and some wise counsel. Had our own tragedy not been photographed, filmed etc… as much as it was, we would never have had the incredible response we experienced. Thousands of people who are still coming to help in the rebuilding process.

    So thank you Jasmine for caring about people, for telling their stories the way you do and inspiring us to get off our own duffs and make a difference in the world around us!

    Peace and Blessings to you this beautiful season!

  42. jen from windy ridge

    November 30th, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Your compassion is beautiful.

  43. Detra

    December 1st, 2008 at 7:56 am

    I know. I cried when I saw the news and there was a man and his two sons begging for money. They hadn’t eaten in a day and they were my boys age. I thought of all of the money I spend at Starbucks, and how delighted they were over a cheeseburger from McDonalds. I can’t go to Starbucks anymore, not like I did. I have been making my own drinks at home — and hating the part of me that is so selfish! I think I can cry again just remembering that little boys face!!!

  44. Jasmine*

    December 1st, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    @Candace: As someone who speaks from experience, I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of charity. In fact, countless Thanksgivings would not have been possible without the help of volunteers and strangers while growing up. Please note that I mentioned I photographed the EVENT, not the people. I photographed the church, the volunteers and the events that took place in order to document for posterity’s sake. Literally thousands of people donated their time and money for the event and my pictures were to show the fruit of their labor. Recipients were not photographed because, like you, I know what it’s like being given food and clothes during difficult times. Thanks for your concern! 🙂

  45. lucy

    December 2nd, 2008 at 6:27 am

    I read this around the holiday and no comments had been made yet. I was grateful for the reminder to be thankful for everything little thing in my life. Thank-you Jasmine for sharing your experiences with us.

  46. Lydia

    December 2nd, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Even days later this is such a good reminder. My heart breaks for the family of the Walmart worker who will be celebrating Christmas without their loved one. But I am also saddened for all those people who value things more than people. I am so blessed by my family and friends!

  47. jeramy

    December 2nd, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    amen to that!

  48. Liza

    December 4th, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  49. Rachel Barker

    December 6th, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I need food more than air.

  50. sue

    December 8th, 2008 at 3:16 am

    OH GOD, you summed up so much of what I want to say …..of what I feel.

    Thanks for all you do for others, for telling us about it in such a REAL way …and for being you …and bringing so much to life. You made me cry with this one.

  51. Ginette

    December 10th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    You have a gift for photography, yes. However I have to tell you that you also have the gift of words. You make me cry as I read this post over and over, but more importantly you have touched my heart. Thank you.

  52. joshua Komanapalli

    December 20th, 2008 at 6:29 am

    very nice. i’ve lived right smack in the middle of poverty growing up.. not that I experienced it, but I saw it all along. its tough sometimes as children i got used to seeing how life is but God does help those in need. lots of love needs to go to struggling families.