Columbia, SC — THANKSGIVING has come and gone, and most of us have set about preparing for Christmas or other holidays. But before we get too deep into our secular celebration of the upcoming holy season, perhaps a bit of reflection is in order.
What did you do for Thanksgiving? By that we don’t mean what you ate or where you traveled or how many football games you watched. We certainly don’t mean how many Black Friday specials you bagged on Thursday. We mean: What did you do to give thanks?
Did you reflect on your many blessings — your health, your loved ones, your home, your job? Did this make you think of those less fortunate? Did it prompt you to do something to help them? What did you do to give back?
Fortunately, if you answered “no” or “nothing” to any of those questions, it’s not too late. Well, it’s never too late; the needy, as a very wise and holy man told us two millennia ago, will always be with us, and they will always need our help.
But it’s not even too late to help those less fortunate this year. Between our national holiday of Thanksgiving and our sectarian celebration of God’s astounding generosity, we are given an entire month to put the needs of others ahead of our own.
The Great Recession may be officially over, but neither our nation nor our state has recovered. Too many of our neighbors still are suffering because they’ve lost jobs or had their hours cut back or had to take a new job at lower pay. In the worst cases, they don’t know where they’ll sleep tonight or where they’ll get their next meal. More often, they can’t quite make their paychecks last until the next one; they have to guess which bill they can get away with not paying; they have to skip needed medical care.
And no matter how much we ourselves may be struggling, there always are people who are struggling more. And the opportunities to help are practically unlimited.
If money is difficult to come by, we can volunteer our time. If time is difficult to come by, we can donate our money.
Harvest Hope Food Bank is always in tremendous need of volunteers and donations. The Salvation Army needs people to ring bells and people to put money in the red kettle when they hear those bells and people to make donations to the Woodyard Fund. Oliver Gospel Mission and Transitions homeless center and the United Way and the Family Shelter and the Cooperative Ministry all do tremendously good work in our community, all through generous donations.
Retail centers and many employers sponsor adopt-a-family programs that make the giving a little more personal, and maybe more rewarding. And of course we all know someone who could use our assistance — whether it’s help paying the bills or doing some yardwork or repairs or just spending time with them. Find more ideas by going to thestate.com and searching for “holiday helpers.”
We give to others because they need our help. And in so doing, we help ourselves even more, by refocusing our attention away from ourselves.