Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving Day for a caring community November 24, 2022

I created this Thanksgiving display in a stoneware bowl in 2015 with the card crafted by my sister-in-law Rena. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2015)

AS THE SCENT OF ROASTING TURKEY fills the house, as tables are set, as friends and family gather, may thankfulness center your thoughts this Thanksgiving Day.

Even in these days of high inflation, political divisiveness and too many people sick with the flu, COVID and RSV, there is reason to pause and feel grateful. Our medical professionals continue to care for patients in overcrowded emergency rooms and hospitals. Post election, hope rises that politicians can work together. And for those who are struggling, individuals and organizations are stepping up to help.

My friends Gary and Barb ring bells for the Salvation Army in 2013. Randy and I followed them in ringing. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo December 2013)

In my community, I see so much compassion and care for others, which truly causes my spirit to fill with gratitude. Last Saturday while exiting a local grocery store, I dropped several bills into the Salvation Army red kettle and thanked the ringers for ringing. What I got in return—bless you—was more than I gave. Later that day at a church boutique, my friend Joy sold holiday porch pots, side tables and benches she crafted from recycled wood, and more with all proceeds going to the Salvation Army.

Volunteers dish up meals at the community Thanksgiving dinner in 2016. Randy and I delivered meals. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo November 2016)

Today a crew of volunteers will serve a free Faribault CommUnity Thanksgiving Dinner, open to anyone from 11 am – 2 pm at the Faribault Eagles Club. There’s in-person dining, curbside pick-up and delivery (if needed). I’ve delivered those meals in the past and, again, was blessed beyond measure by the grateful words of the recipients. (Monetary donations are accepted for the Faribault Foundation, with a mission of “enriching the quality of life for the Faribault community.)

Every Tuesday evening, volunteers also serve a free dinner at the Community Cafe, hosted at the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour. The non-profit’s mission is “Build Community, One Meal at a Time.”

I display this vintage 1976 calendar each Thanksgiving as a reminder of my blessings. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

As more and more people struggle to afford food, to put food on the table, my community provides. Through church food shelves. At St. Vincent De Paul, which shares “faith, food and free resources” with a primary concern of charity and justice. At the Community Action Center of Faribault, a free food market and resource center.

This was some of the information presented at a 2018 collaborative public meeting in Faribault focused on domestic violence. Domestic violence typically rises during the holidays. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2018)

HOPE Center provides Healing, Outreach, Prevention and Education to survivors of violence (and their families) in Rice County. I am grateful to the team that staffs HOPE Center, bringing hope and healing. To witness such compassion warms my heart.

Faribault Woolen Mill (now Faribault Mill) blankets/throws artfully hung on a simple pipe in the Faribault retail store in 2012. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2012)

The warmth of compassion also plays out at the Faribault Mill, founded in 1865 as a woolen mill and internationally-known for its quality woolen blankets and other products. For every bed blanket sold, the mill is donating one high quality blanket to nonprofits serving homeless youth in cities across the country. The “Spread the Warmth” initiative has already partnered with 14 nonprofits coast-to-coast, north to south, from Boston to San Francisco, from Minneapolis to Dallas.

Created by a Faribault Lutheran School student in 2013, the feathers list reasons for thankfulness. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo November 2013)

There is reason to feel grateful for all of these efforts, to see just how much love, care and compassion exist. I feel heartened, thankful, uplifted by the real ways in which individuals, businesses, faith communities, nonprofits and more strive to care for others. Hope rises.

Happy Thanksgiving!

TELL ME: What are you especially thankful for this Thanksgiving in your community?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


13 Responses to “Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving Day for a caring community”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Audrey. You are truly a blessing. ❤

  2. What a wonderful community you live in with all those opportunities to either receive a blessing or to give one! Happy Thanksgiving Audrey!

  3. beth Says:

    you live in such a wonderful, caring, and warm community, who takes care of others, and makes the efforts that can make all the difference in someone’s life, especially anyone who is struggling or left behind in some way. one year when my daughter was teaching a city that had a majority of families struggling just to get by, we delivered turkey dinners to families to cook, and they also had the option to come to the school for a prepared meal to sit with others. one of the most moving and powerful initiatives I’ve ever been a part of and I’ll never forget it. we are so lucky and can never forget that. happiest of thanksgivings to you and yours as well as to your wonderful and giving community.

  4. Sandra Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Audrey. It’s good to read such giving going on, it’s more public than when I was there. Then it was mostly in community pockets and family gatherings. Of course, I remember more independence than dependence of society then. During our Thanksgiving Eve service a video was shown about the Community Resource Center support of our church. The effort is even bigger than I imagined. Think I saw a blouse top I donated being tried on for free giveaway. It’s important organized channels are provided. The pro or government programs often lack the personal touch and supervision. The embezzlement charges against Partners in Nutrition, etc…..well, where there’s money. Most are honest. I also just read about the next IRIS walk and gathering. Yup, when they’re not tearing down buildings, they got the “helping” initiative mastered. I’m proud. Thank you for all you do as well. On to Christmas singing!

    • Sandra, it’s good to hear from you again as it’s been awhile. I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. I appreciate what your church does to help those in your community.

      On the subject of building tear downs in Faribault, I’m not happy about that either.

  5. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    This post just warms my heart. We live in a world that is yearning for compassion and love! Your community is an example of that kind of compassion. Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you enjoyed your day.

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