Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Grateful for This Sheltered Place

I don't need the calendar or the weather as reminders 'the holiday' season is knocking at the door. I had my two indicators this Saturday: my first encounter this season with Ericka Gunther and her red kettle from the Salvation Army in front of the Norwichtown Stop and Shop and a great afternoon enjoying homegrown arts and crafts at the O'Tis a Festival downtown in The Otis Library.

It's in the air and everywhere. The brilliantly bright days of Autumn are giving way to darker skies with hints of snow in every brisk(er) breeze; the newspapers get a little plumper as merchants boost their advertising hoping to catch a shopper's eye and halls and other stationary objects find themselves bedecked in holly and garland.

Tomorrow, as you know, is Thanksgiving followed on Friday afternoon by the 25th Annual Light Up City Hall, starting at three with the Norwich Winterfest Parade stepping off from Chelsea Parade at one Saturday afternoon.

The Winterfest Parade ends in the middle of downtown which gives you a head start on celebrating Small Business Saturday which is a great way to support our local merchants.  

There's so much holiday happiness almost everywhere we look that I feel nearly Grinchy pointing out amidst all the cheer that both happy and hunger start with "h" and one in eight people living in our state struggle with hunger every day.

I'm not talking about 'gee, I was so busy today I forgot to eat lunch' hungry. I mean having to choose between paying rent or for heat and having money left to put food on the table for breakfast or dinner.

Here in Norwich, over 15% of our residents live at or below the poverty level, which means for those of us who aren't, in all likelihood we have family and friends who are.

Over three-quarters of our school-age children are 'eligible' for free or reduced price meals (I hate that word 'eligible;' as if those kids had won some kind of a drawing for Disneyland except in this case the prize is a grocery store) and over eight in ten participate in school breakfast programs.

I don't bring this up to harsh your Thanksgiving, but let's face it many of us have a lot to be thankful about and maybe, just maybe, we can share some of what we have with those who don't have very much.

And for those struggling, and often failing, to get by, it's a daily fact of life, not just on the fourth Thursday in November but every day. Hunger doesn't take a holiday but we can each help those whom it affects. It's not too late to brighten some one's Thanksgiving or holiday season.

There are agencies and outreaches we all know who will welcome any donation of time, talent or treasure we make. You could visit and not just make a difference but be the difference between another day and a real holiday for someone in need.
Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.
-bill kenny

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