From the first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in the hard winter of 1621 to the first national Thanksgiving celebration, declared by President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War in 1863, our nation has recognized that, even in the most difficult of times, we Americans have much for which we should be, and are, deeply grateful.
We are grateful for our freedoms, and for those whose sacrifices, both in the past and in the present, have made those freedoms endure for generations.
We are grateful for our families and friends, and for the love that makes life worthwhile.
We are also grateful that we are fortunate enough to be able to help others.
Our family, especially during the holidays, supports ClothingDonations.org, a service of Vietnam Veterans of America. ClothingDonations.org will pick up your used clothes and household goods at your convenience and use them to support programs that address the needs of all our veterans.
We also support Families Forward, an Irvine-based organization that assists Orange County families in financial crisis to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency and helps these families to once again become independent, productive residents of the community. During the holidays, Families Forward also provides in-need families with festive food baskets and personalized holiday gifts.
Another worthy organization is the California Association of Food Banks, founded in 1995 to help hungry people throughout California, including our local Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and the Community Action Partnership of Orange County Food Bank.
We are grateful, too, for everyone in our community and our nation who protects us and serves those in need.
Our friend Michael Kinslow has written a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for those who protect and those who serve:
Thank you God for every woman and man who risks their life for my freedom and safety. Please bless their families with peace.
Thank you God for every child, woman, and man who volunteers in my community. All of those who feed the hungry, provide shelter, and all who put their hearts, minds, and souls into building up others and caring for all of your creatures. Please bless them in their own time of need.