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SOUCHERAY: Doing for others on Thanksgiving

Next week is Thanksgiving. It always falls on a Thursday. This is a predictable day on a calendar on which most other major holidays move from one day of the week to another, given the phases of the moon, an equinox, or some other celestial occurrence. The predictability of Thanksgiving allows families to make plans that are foreseeable and familiar.

Thanksgiving also affords us the opportunity to invest ourselves in the expression of gratitude and an extension of good will and generosity toward others. As we prepare our own Thanksgiving Day feast, complete with the turkey and dressing, potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, and pumpkin pie (did I get it all?!), we can also take time this week to learn how we might help another family enjoy some of the predictability that comes with regular meals, food in the cupboard, and healthy, well-fed kids.

In this next week, perhaps you could pick up a few extra items when you are grocery shopping and put them in the box at the entrance of your store for the food shelf. Be sure to choose non-perishable canned or boxed goods and remember to buy things your family likes to eat. Whatever you like, another family will like as well.

Finding out that families are happy and willing to give to help other families is something our two sons learned a few years ago. They were both doing a project for their respective schools and decided to conduct a food drive in our neighborhood. They started by going to the grocery store and asking for several plastic shopping bags. Next, they wrote a note, which they put into each bag, which were carefully placed on the doorstep of each house.

The boys returned to the houses the following week and were delighted to find that many neighbors had complied with the request for food. They had filled the grocery bags and left them on the front step. We filled the trunk of my car with the stuffed bags of food and took them to the Christian Cupboard at Woodbury Lutheran Church.

The boys brought the bags into the church, only to be greeted by Sharon Wolff, who was there assisting workers sort food, helping those of us delivering food, and offering words of encouragement to those who were picking up food. All in all, it was a very busy place that day and our sons were quite taken in by it. They helped patrons of the food shelf bring bags to their cars as they engaged in conversation with them. It was a moving and memorable experience for them that day.

Like the predictability of Thanksgiving always falling on a Thursday, we often assume that every family has the ability to provide food for its family members. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, particularly given this current economic climate. For many families, this uncertain time has caused them to wonder where the money will come from to provide the basic needs of their families, let alone think about a Thanksgiving feast.

If each family in Woodbury who has the means to provide something extra for a family in need, right within our own community, we would fill the Christian Cupboard to a bursting point. It often requires little more than awareness, and just like our sons who collected food for a school project and were sincerely and permanently touched by the experience, so will we be when we share with others.

Let us ask ourselves what we can do for another family this Thanksgiving, as we help to provide the assurance of predictability for them in these troubling times. Extending a hand of friendship to someone in need, even someone we do not know, helps us remember that we are a member of the human race. As we bring goodness into the world in this way, we will not only provide food for another, we will also provide a sense of well-being and lovingkindness which will permeate every aspect of society.

Kate Soucheray is a Woodbury resident.