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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving


You can read the economic reports.  It's a lot different when you see it in person.

There was a line of cars, several blocks long, Monday morning on Washington Street in East Stroudsburg.  People were arriving for the annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving food distribution.  Approximately 500 families signed up for help this year.  It's about a 20 per cent increase over last year.

We heard stories of job losses, illnesses, and other unexpected issues that led people to the Salvation Army for help.  Thank you for sharing a part of your life.  Your experiences may be the inspiration for others to seek help, people who don't know assistance is out there.  It might also help spur donations and volunteering.

As you know, the Salvation Army is one of my favorite organizations.  It all started as a kid, when my mom always make sure I had some change to toss into the red kettles before Christmas.  I still do what I can.

I will go back to what a friend and photographer taught me at the Salvation Army in East Stroudsburg nearly 20 years ago.  We walked out of a Christmas Eve dinner for the less fortunate.  I was depressed.  The photographer told me I should be happy that there are people here to help.  I should also be happy for the people in need, who were getting a chance to experience a little Christmas cheer.

The head of the East Stroudsburg effort told me Monday that helping the community is a "privilege."  He added no matter how tough times are, they always wind up with enough donations to make sure no one goes hungry.  That feat was referred to as "miraculous."

And as is inevitable any time we do a story on people in need receiving assistance, there is a backlash from those who claim there are people scamming the system.  You know what?  They're right.  There are always people out there looking for something for which they are not entitled.  There's a saying in the legal business:  "It is better to let a thousand guilty men go free than to convict an innocent man."  I'd prefer to let some scammers get away with it, rather than let someone legitimately in need go without.  Have a heart.

I'm a firm believer that no matter how awful things are, you can always find something, tiny as it may be, for which to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.