Thursday, November 24, 2016

“As we roll down this unfamiliar road.../Just know you’re not alone/ ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.”-Phillip Phillips, “Home”

Across the country, people are celebrating the many blessings in their lives.  From the people we love to the gifts we've been given, we spend Thanksgiving being grateful for what we have.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you do dig deeper.  Today and always, I ask you to remember the things we so often take for granted.  There are so many things in this world that we do not remember to value until they are gone.  I have learned that there is no one better to remind us what we have to be thankful for than those without.  I surveyed 42 clients at the Union Food Pantry, and their stories and overwhelming thankfulness to the volunteers at the Food Pantry is a true example to what gratefulness is.

The clients at the Union Food Pantry have gone through rough times, to say the least.  35 of the 42 are unemployed, 18 have a disability or medical limitation of some kind, and all have a different story to tell as to why they came to the Food Pantry for help.  They represent all walks of life--from ages 21 to 69, from individuals to families of 7, from visiting the pantry for the first time or for 20 years--but they are linked by the volunteers that work to keep the pantry running, as well as by you.

This past weekend, I helped at the Union Food Pantry as the donations from the Union Boy Scouts Drive came in.  Your donations filled the shelves of both the Union Food Pantry and the Second Blessings Food Pantry, but they did so much more.  They gave clients a Thanksgiving that they otherwise would not have.  Because of your donations, clients are "able to put food on the table."  The support that clients receive from the Food Pantry allows them to put money towards electric and medical bills, gas to keep the job for the few who have one, is helping a homeless family save for a place to live, and helps those fortunate enough to have a place pay the rent to stay there.

From job loss to cancer, disability to family death, homelessness to divorce, too many bills to too little income, and every combination there-of, the life stories of the clients vary greatly.  When asked what convinced them to turn to the Food Pantry for aid, one mother replied, "When we were so low on food that we had to eat beans."  A parent of another family, who is currently without housing, replied that they turned to the food pantry after, "I had lost my job [and] turned to drugs.  When I got clean and started straight, [and was] looking for a job, I turned to the food pantry for help."

These individuals are still working to rebuild their lives from desperate situations, and they are all the more grateful because of it.  They consider the food pantry a "God-send", "a blessing", and the key to survival in time of need.  Without the support of the community, they would be unable to rebuild their lives and keep their heads above water.

And so, this Thanksgiving, I ask you to be grateful that your needs are met, and that, no matter what situation you are in, there are people who are here to support you.  Be grateful for everything you have beyond your needs as well, because not everyone has them.  Look to these individuals who are homeless and in need as an inspiration and an example of being able to find the good in life even in times of desperation and need.  Finally, I ask that you keep those in need in your thoughts and prayers today and always, and that those that are so grateful for your help may one day be able to pay it forward.

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