On this day of Thanksgiving, many face challenges, meager challenges and challenges so monumental that others among us can’t begin to comprehend how they get by.
It’s so hard to be thankful sometimes when it seems the world just keeps pouring it on.
But our area is full of people who truly care about others and who sacrifice a bit of themselves to help others in need.
Today, for example, there are hundreds of people right in our area who are serving Thanksgiving meals to people in need or people who just need the company. These meals don’t happen on a whim.
They take months of planning and organizing and solicitation of volunteers. Someone stood in a hot kitchen and precooked all those turkeys and mashed potatoes and vegetables and pies. They took time out of their evenings and weekends.
Other individuals and companies donated the food for the meals, the plates and utensils, the kitchen facilities and the places to hold the meals. Others donated cash to help pay for it.
Parents brought their children to help, both to impart on them the joy of giving and to remind them how blessed they are compared to others.
Many are taking this Thanksgiving morning to deliver those meals to those who can’t leave their homes, leaving their warm homes for cold cars packed with packages of food.
All this giving for just one event.
It’s flat-out amazing when you think about what people do around here to help others and to serve their community throughout the year.
During the natural disasters in Texas, Florida and the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had people who actually took time off from their jobs and away from their families, got on a plane and went there, helping feed people or provide medical care or assist with the cleanup.
We have people around here who regularly go on missions to other countries to provide needed water, sewer treatment and medical attention.
Every day, teams of volunteers go out into the community and rebuild Little League fields, clean up graffiti from bridges and buildings, rake the leaves and mow cemeteries so families can more appropriately honor the people they’ve lost.
We have people raising money for victims of tragedies like car accidents and fires for medical care or to help offset the families’ expenses.
We have people buying toys for children so they have a nice Christmas and people who organize trucks and volunteers to deliver the presents. We have people who regularly prepare care packages for soldiers serving overseas, giving them a touch of home even though they’re thousands of miles away.
Throughout the year, people donate and package backpacks for hundreds of local children who come from impoverished homes, making sure these kids have food and school supplies so they’re at their best to learn.
We have people who volunteer on the nastiest nights of the year to staff emergency shelters so that the homeless have a place to escape the cold.
We have people with construction skills who donate their time and effort building homes for poor families, allowing them to provide a safe place for their children and have pride in home ownership.
We have people serving on community boards and school boards and in charitable organizations and hospitals and senior centers and church groups for no pay, no recognition. They probably even have to put up with some grief from people. The jobs are hard, and we know what a sacrifice it can be to serve.
The most gratifying high notes in our communities are those involving the acts of young people.
College students venture out to help their adopted hometowns, doing everything from organizing and staffing blood drives to fixing up elderly people’s property to raking leaves at the homes of senior citizens to sprucing up historic sites to leaving homemade hats and scarves on trees for the homeless to take.
The generation that often gets criticized for its selfishness is in no short supply of individuals willing to invest their time and energy into helping others. Fear not; the future is safe in their hands.
Whatever you do in the community, however you serve, whatever big or little contribution you might make to bettering the lives of others, it is appreciated. People’s lives are better for what you do. Your community is better.
Today, when we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, let’s make sure we remember to thank the givers.