Many years ago, when I was a young teen, my dad lost his job right before the holiday season. We were a big family, living on my father’s meager income and supplementing that income with our own homegrown fruits and vegetables and fish from the local waters. But to lose that income in the middle of autumn didn’t make it easy for us to subsist, and then, of course, there were the upcoming holidays.

I remember sitting in my family dining room with my mom one night, planning the homemade gifts we could make (I had just learned how to sew in Home Ec at school) when there was a knock on our back door. When Dad opened it, the first thing I saw was a ginormous basket wrapped in plastic and tied with a huge golden bow. Friends and neighbors had taken up a collection for us and presented us with everything we needed for a Thanksgiving dinner: a turkey, stuffing, nuts and fruit, two pre-baked pies, and even a bottle of wine. I’ll never forget the expressions on my parents’ faces: an enormous weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Even as a cynical teenager, I was moved by the sheer generosity and kindness shown to us that night. It’s why I always strive to give as much as I can during the holiday season.  

There’s a food drive going on in my area of the state today for Island Harvest, a local foodbank. If you’re a Long Island resident, please visit their website and make a contribution to help ease the holiday stress for a family or two. If you’re not on Long Island and want to help someone near you, find a local foodbank or pantry in your area.

I just want you to remind you: kids are poor, too. They can’t do much to help, but your help can ease their parents’ burdens a little bit and maybe, put a smile on an otherwise stressed face. Give generously. Choose love.

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