Have you ever been in a year where you don’t know how to give thanks? One where you look at the world around you, and you’re filled with gratitude for a roof over your head, for healthy children and family members, for education and opportunity: you know these things are good, and you are grateful, but you’re struggling to be thankful when you know more this year about how your country was formed and continues to function, when you have an inbox full of stories about people being hurt within your town, when you see how your friends are being carefully placed like a piece in Jenga so that the whole tower doesn’t come crumbling down. Have you ever had a year like that?
I know how blessed I am. I know just how privileged we are. But I also know that having things and being privileged is not the cure for all heartache.
So, while I am having trouble being thankful, that doesn’t mean that I should have trouble giving. I think that in the times where we have trouble being thankful, we should shower ourselves in giving.
I like that there are two parts to the word Thanksgiving.
Yesterday, I went to Mahomet-Seymour High School at 2:12 p.m. I am volunteering my time with the Interact Club: a group of students who volunteer time about once a week, hoping to make Mahomet a better community.
This perfectly aligns with the Mahomet Daily’s mission of building community.
The task yesterday was to canvas several Mahomet subdivisions to collect canned goods for Helping Hands. After three hours of going door-to-door, 18 Mahomet-Seymour students collected 820 lbs of food to donate to Mahomet Helping Hands!
As we placed the food on the distribution tables, we had to make room because Mahomet-Seymour Junior High students also made a large donation to Helping Hands for the holidays!
The kids donated their time, but it was because of you, those who opened the door and raided your pantries, that we were able to collect that amount of food.
Mahomet-Seymour math teacher and Interact sponsor Rhonda Starkey thought we’d just need one vehicle to transfer the food from the high school to Helping Hands, but we needed two cars.
That was just the beginning of the blessings. When we got there, Ann Paul and other Helping Hands staff members helped us weigh the food. And a couple who was there picking up food for the week helped us carry the groceries into the facility. Without the help of one man, who carried boxes weighing as much as 80 lbs at a time, we might have been there much later that night.
But the goodness does not end there.
When we arrived back at the high school to count food at 5:30 p.m., the Mahomet-Seymour student council was serving around 100 senior citizens Thanksgiving dinner and a class from the Freshmen Mentoring Program (FMP) hosted a dodgeball event to raise money for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.
I left believing that this world might be okay. Last night restored some of my faith in us as a people. And maybe even as a community.
Community isn’t just about having pretty buildings, a growing population or activities; community is actually about what happened last night: people coming together to serve and support each other for the greater good.
In what may be described as a Grinch-like realization moment, I learned I can no longer just be thankful and watch the world pass me by, but that through giving there is a deep gratitude that is spread among friends, neighbors and community that makes the world a better place to live in.