Grateful to live in such a place

Published 10:27 pm Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some days, it’s easy to see why Suffolk is such a special place. Saturday was one of those days.

It’s easy sometimes to get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we forget to stop and appreciate all the blessings we’ve been given. But two different events on Saturday morning helped put things back into perspective for me.

LeOtis Williams and Impact Suffolk both held food giveaways in the downtown area, serving more than 3,000 people before the morning was done. When I think of the spread of food that will be available at my house on Thanksgiving, it’s hard to swallow the lump in my throat over all those folks who might not have had a special meal at all if not for the love of neighbors and strangers from this city.

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LeOtis Williams is a lesson in generosity all by himself.

Nine years ago, he decided he wanted to do something to share the blessings that God had given him. So the following Thanksgiving he bought 175 turkeys and handed them out to people who had been less fortunate.

His annual turkey giveaway has grown to the point where this year he and nearly 80 volunteers handed out more than 2,000 turkeys, as well as bags of collard greens, potatoes and other holiday fixin’s. While folks waited in line, they were fed hot dogs and hamburgers, and even the volunteers were fed breakfast. Altogether, the event cost about $31,000, and Williams said he’ll start putting money aside next month for next year’s event.

When I told a friend about this man’s generosity, my friend pointed out that God is even more generous and would continue to bless Williams’ efforts to help out his fellow man.

“You can’t out-give God,” he said.

We had that conversation in the parking lot at Lake Meade Park, where another thousand people were being blessed by the concerted efforts of 30 churches from the area that were taking part in the Impact Suffolk Thanksgiving Food Give-Away.

Scores of volunteers there handed out canned food, chickens, coffee and more to folks who seemed genuinely grateful for the help. Others carried the bags and boxes of food to waiting cars for those who were unable to carry the load themselves.

It was truly a case of Christians following Scripture’s command to bear one another’s burdens.

When I think of the things that make Suffolk such a fine place to live, these two events — and the people who made them possible — are just the sort of things that spring to mind.

I’m thankful to live in such a community. I’m thankful for the opportunity to know and work with such fine people. And I’m thankful for the perspective their work gave me about my own life on Saturday.