It’s Thanksgiving once again, and as we gear up for Thursday’s feast of turkey and cranberry sauce, stuffing and apple pie, we will, as tradition calls for, hold near and dear our family and friends — whether they are able to share the holiday with us or, for reasons beyond our control, are far beyond our grasp.
Yes, Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends and we relish the way in which it brings them closer to our heart. But this year, we have also been reminded of another meaning for the word Thanksgiving, and that is appreciation. Not only a deep appreciation for all that we have, but for all that people in our community do to improve the lives of others in our neighborhood, in our town and in our world.
We so easily take the bounty of America for granted. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the endless availability and variety of food, shelter and material goods that can be found in this country is an anomaly, not a right.
It’s become second nature, and we don’t generally even think twice about it.
But several things this week did give us pause to remember that there are millions of people in this world who enjoy not even the simplest pleasures that we have come to expect in life.
We are reminded of our good food by the students of St. Andrew’s Youth Group, who spent last weekend baking hundreds of pies in the basement of Stella Maris School. Many of these pies found their way to the Sag Harbor Food Pantry and other community pantries which, in these dire economic times, are filling a major need by feeding the hungry of the East End. Never in our lifetime have we witnessed so many people struggling so hard to feed their families. We can’t imagine where these people would be if it weren’t for the heroes of our food pantries.
We are reminded of our cozy houses in the “Our Town” column this week where we read the words of a woman who shares her thoughts on the efforts of many people on the East End. Through their churches, they have banded together to form a branch of Maureen’s Haven, an organization that provides overnight shelter to the homeless. We can only hope that through their tireless work, those who are facing winter’s approach without a consistent roof over their heads will find solace at least once a week when the shelter is able to house them for the night.
We are reminded of our access to quality medical care by the good news received at Southampton Hospital this week. A large gift – the largest monetary gift it has ever received in fact – was given to the hospital by hedge fund manager John Paulson and his wife Jenny. The Paulson’s $5 million gift will go toward upgrading the emergency room facilities at the hospital. We find it admirable that the Paulsons, one of the wealthiest families in America, would bestow that kind of money on Southampton Hospital. Though this is where so many of the wealthy have second homes, it’s not always the first place where they choose to donate their money. But those patients who rely on the hospital year round are very glad the Paulsons did.
Finally, we are reminded of the reliability of our resources through the Zimbabwe seeds project, in which the simple act of sending a few hundred packets of vegetable and herb seeds from Sag Harbor to Africa has made a huge difference in the lives of so many people. These are families who don’t have access to fresh food and can’t even buy the seeds to grow it themselves. The availability of electricity and water is unpredictable, as is the country’s devalued currency. Meanwhile, parents are dying of AIDS, leaving a staggering number of orphaned children behind. Through the simple act of a school bake sale, a group of Sag Harbor students has raised enough money to send 500 donated seed packets halfway around the world where they will feed a hungry and deprived population for generations to come.
Think you can’t make a difference? Think again … you can do it … one brownie at a time.