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Today's Family Magazine

Counting your blessings during times of tragedy and being a blessing for others in need

By Stacy Turner

This month, while many thoughts rightly turn to giving thanks, it’s important to remember that many people have been affected by the tumultuous events of the past few months.  Hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, shootings and so much tragedy have taken their toll on many families.  Some of these families are linked to us by blood or friendship, while many others names we may not know.

Even as an adult, it’s easy to adopt a "gloom & doom" mindset under the barrage of these tragedies.  As the evening news and 24-hour feeds brings details of destruction into your home, it may be difficult for many to find a reason to be thankful this year. And our children aren’t exempt from these thoughts and feelings, either.

In the face of so much sadness, I’m reminded of something that children’s television personality Fred Rogers is quoted as saying.  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'  To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."

Thankfully, these words are still true today, as stories emerge amidst the tragedies, sharing how regular people just like us stand up to help their neighbors, friends, or even complete strangers.  Local farmers loaded up trucks to deliver supplies for ranchers and their families, as well as food for livestock in areas devastated by drought and wildfires this summer.  They banded together to help families like their own, even though they may not know each other by name.

From around the country, strangers ventured out to volunteer with clean up efforts or gather donations of supplies and money to send to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which pummeled through the Caribbean and Gulf Coast regions. Linemen and women from across the Midwest left the comfort of their homes and families to help restore power and normalcy to unknown neighbors down south.

And most recently concertgoers, having survived a harrowing ordeal themselves, stayed at the scene, in potential danger, to help treat or transport injured strangers before EMS could arrive.  Afterward, regular people like you and I waited in line for hours to donate blood for people they didn’t know as a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of tragedy.

And although, hopefully, we may never be called on to exhibit such bravery in the face of those types of adversity, we can all be helpers in our own communities, providing help and hope to those around us.  Even little things, like donating food or clothing to those in need, can make a big difference in someone’s life.  No act of kindness is too small or insignificant.  As Mother Teresa explained, “I don't do great things.  I do small things with great love.”

In this season of giving thanks, it is important, as always, to count our blessings.  Like me, you may be fortunate to be surrounded by the love of family and friends, and the comfort of a safe place to call home. But no matter the ways in which each of us has been blessed, in turn, we’re all called to be blessings to others, as well.  Because in the end, we’re all just neighbors, trying to help each other along.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.  Since we're together we might as well say, “Would you be mine?  Could you be mine?  Won't you be my neighbor?

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