It’s no surprise that Thanksgiving is next week. What you may not know is that this week – November 10-18 – is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, this week is dedicated to addressing the systemic problems that create both homelessness and hunger, particularly among children.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2010 annual report to Congress, each night there are approximately 770,000 people in the United States who are homeless, while the U.S. Department of Education reports that there are an additional 700,000 children without a place to call home and who go to bed hungry nightly.

For more information on how you and your League – and your families, neighbors and friends – can participate in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, go to this National Coalition for the Homeless link.

Of course, more than 200 Leagues create awareness about another facet of food-related issues for children through their participation in AJLI’s Kids in the Kitchen program every year.

Even so, many Leagues have also traditionally used Thanksgiving-related events as a way to raise awareness of hunger in their own communities – and to address it with innovative, community-based programs.

The Junior League of Houston’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner offering provides a full Thanksgiving dinner on a take-home basis for up to 12 people at a cost of $200. The holiday tradition benefits JLH’s many programs and community partners, including direct financial support to 37 community programs like the Houston Food Bank, Houston Areas Women’s Center and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Thanks-for-Giving Baskets, one of the Junior League of Summit’s Mission Accomplished projects, provides over 300 holiday meals and more than $3,000 in ShopRite gift cards to needy families.

Volunteers from the Junior League of Las Vegas help fill grocery bags for the Help of Southern Nevada Thanksgiving Project. The annual event assists over 1,200 families with Turkey and all the fixings for dinner.

For more information on the many Thanksgiving events sponsored by Leagues go to this AJLI link.

While these League programs focus on the issue of hunger, the Junior League of London is working to address the underlying problems that have put an increasing number of youth there in homeless shelters. Developed in conjunction with Centrepoint, the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity, JLL’s Life Wise program helps young homeless people reintegrate back into society through learning workshops, employment networking and social opportunities and mentoring.