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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
TELL ME: What are you especially thankful for this Thanksgiving in your community?
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
A commentary: Called to help others October 6, 2022
Tags: care, commentary, compassion, devotion, faith, helping others, Leviticus, Minnesota, Monticello
THIS MORNING IN READING one of two daily devotionals, I was reminded of the need to help others. The referenced scripture, Leviticus 25: 35-37, published with the October 6 Our Daily Bread devotion, brought back a scene which unfolded recently in Monticello.
On our way home from a short stay at a family member’s central Minnesota lake cabin, I spotted a woman holding a sign along State Highway 25 just before the Interstate 94 overpass. She stood in a center island, at a stoplight, traffic swarming around her. Her sign, with many misspellings, requested help for her and her three children. Help to pay for food and rent. Basic needs.
I felt in that moment a sense of compassion, yet an inability to aid this woman. And, I admit, I also felt a bit of uncertainty, a hesitancy, a questioning of whether she truly was in need. That reaction bothers me. Why couldn’t I simply trust the truthfulness of her request?
That brings me back to Leviticus, chapter 25, verse 35:
If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.
That’s a powerful directive. Help him, or in the case of the woman in Monticello, her. Whether you are a person of faith or not, the Bible holds important messages that today fit the definition of “social justice.” Compassion. Mercy. Grace.
Not all of us are in a financial position to assist with gifts of money. But there are many other ways to help our friends, family, neighbors and, yes, even strangers. Encourage via kind and supportive words—written or spoken. I like to send uplifting cards with handwritten notes of encouragement. Pray. Engage in conversation, mostly listening. It’s about taking the focus off ourselves and placing it on others. Educate yourself via reading, attending community events that enlighten and more. Volunteer.
The woman in Monticello, even though I couldn’t aid her, gives me pause to reflect. So many people are struggling. With health issues, relationships, finances, simply trying to meet basic needs. Throw in the current divisiveness in this country, an ongoing pandemic, worldwide threats and conflicts, and the situation can feel overwhelming. Yet, we are all capable of doing something. Of reaching out with compassion and care. Of connecting. Of encouraging, supporting, uplifting in some way, large or small, that shows our humanity.
TELL ME: In what ways have you helped others, whether family, friends or strangers? Specifics are especially welcome.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling