With Thanksgiving approaching, we’re once again being reminded by the relentless advertising, as well as by our own memories of past feasts, that a proper Thanksgiving isn’t complete without the right menu and holiday de?cor at the dinner table. Without those, we’re told, it’s not a traditional Thanksgiving.

However, that’s not what the last Thursday in November is all about. Thanksgiving is, above all, a time to be with family and friends and to contemplate the blessings in one’s life. That’s it. That’s what the Pilgrims did after their first harvest, and we continue that tradition.

Compared to countries where people struggle daily with a lack of decent water, food and shelter, we in America are living the good life. But there are some who are struggling with a number of challenges. Many have jobs but worry about their financial security. Many are living alone and feeling alone, and family-focused holidays just make the loneliness worse. Others are deep in debt and live with constant uncertainty. Some have costly health-related expenses. Many are burning the midnight oil going to school, working and raising a family. In other words, there are a lot of people out there who don’t have dollars to spare. We think of them this Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, there are a lot of good people in our communities who are rising up to meet the challenges of others. Particularly, many are volunteering at one of Maine’s 300-plus food pantries, which, come wintertime, start getting busier as people’s income goes to pay for other necessities, such as heating fuel and electric bills. On Thanksgiving, many local pantries and organizations raise money and food donations to provide the less-fortunate with boxes overflowing with traditional Thanksgiving staples such as stuffing, potatoes, squash and, of course, a big turkey. It makes both donors and recipients happy to have the traditional meal, which can be pretty expensive; and these pantry volunteers’ hard work providing a bountiful feast for strangers should be a source of personal and community pride.

It’s not too late to help our pantries get ready for Thanksgiving baskets, or get a head start on Christmas baskets. Donations of money or food are both helpful, but money goes further since most pantries usually are tied to a food bank such as Good Shepherd Food-Bank in Auburn, which touts its ability to turn a $1 donation into 16 pounds of donated food.

Happy Thanksgiving, and we thank you for doing what you can to help the needy among us.

–John Balentine, managing editor

Local pantries

• Scarborough Food Pantry

167 Black Point Road (Blue Point Congregational Church)

799-3536

• South Portland Food Cupboard

130 Thadeus St.

874-0379

• Judy’s Pantry

280 Ocean House Road (Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church)

767-1031

Needed items

Throughout the year, pantries can use donations of the following staples: Baked beans, boxed meals (mac and cheese, etc.), canned fruits, canned meals, (SpaghettiOs, etc.), canned meats (tuna, chicken, etc.), canned soups, canned vegetables, cereal, coffee, disposable diapers,

feminine hygiene products, jelly, paper towels, pasta, peanut butter,

shampoo, spaghetti sauce, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste.


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