Give Thanks

We are coming into one of my favorite times of year. I have always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas because they represent family, and, as we get older, family means more.

Being the youngest of 11, I have always had family around, although I am closer to some than others. When it comes to age, I am closer to my oldest brother’s children than I am to him. Over the years, as my parents have passed and I now live thousands of miles away from my siblings, I have come to realize the importance of family. Here in Fairbanks, I have friends who have become family and I cherish them, but I do long to be closer to my siblings.

In September, my oldest brother’s wife passed away and I was able to go home and be with all of my siblings, minus two who have already passed. What a reunion it was! I was so excited to see all of my siblings after not seeing some of them for four or five years.

On the other hand, my heart broke for my brother at the loss of his sweet wife of 49 years. The service was beautiful and a wonderful tribute to my sister-in-law and the amazing things she did.

My brother has been blessed in his life with a business that provided for their needs and a little more. Everyone joked about how his wife liked to shop and spend money, but I also saw how much she did for others without them knowing. She had a big heart and always shared with others, whether it was paying for a young mother’s groceries or buying a pair of shoes for a young child whose parents said they needed to find cheaper ones. She was an amazing example of kindness and generosity.

We may not be that fortunate, and some of us may even be struggling to keep our house heated or to buy basic needs. Fairbanks has many agencies we can donate to or get help from. This morning, I visited the Love INC website and noted they have several different donation packages available. I love the ones that say donations will be given to an individual or family in the Fairbanks area. So, if you are blessed you can donate online; if you need help, this is a good place to go for help getting back on your feet.

You can donate time or food to the Food Bank and Stone Soup kitchen to help feed our community, or get help with food if you are in need. The Rescue Mission is another great place to donate or to go for help.

The Door and SOAP are local programs for teens. Visit their websites to see what donations they could use.

Don’t forget our furry friends. The local animal shelter and rescues around town are always in need of supplies and money.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are other great organizations. I am sorry if I have missed any organizations, which I am sure I have.

Don’t forget the power of word of mouth. Some people who are in need don’t want to let others know, but I encourage you to guide those people to these resources.

I want to encourage those of you who are fortunate to help those who have come on hard times. Maybe you know a family that is struggling and could use some groceries or help with bills. You will never feel better than helping someone in need and it’s a great example to share with your children that we can, and should, help others who are less fortunate.

My nieces and nephews won’t forget the example their mother set and they are already helping others, from shoveling sidewalks to repairing steps for the elderly. My parents set an example for us in our youth. Others have given to me along the way and said “pass it forward when you can.” I have been blessed and passed it forward and will continue. I ask you to share what you can.

Meanwhile, keep your family close and in your heart. Reach out and call them. If you have problems between you, forgive and forget. Live your life with no regrets and do good.

4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427 or go to 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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