Thankful for Saturday’s lessons

Published 7:26 pm Saturday, November 21, 2015

Recovering from minor surgery this weekend, I missed one of my favorite days of the year to be wandering around Suffolk with a camera and notepad.

For years, I’ve made it a point to be on duty the Saturday before Thanksgiving so I could enjoy the spirit of generosity and thankfulness that pervades two of the city’s most wonderful events of the year.

Food giveaways by local businessman LeOtis Williams and Impact Suffolk, an organization of churches in the city, truly capture the spirit of the holidays here, and I’ve always appreciated the jumpstart they give my own spirit this time of year.

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Williams’ huge annual altruistic undertaking teaches an important lesson about giving. Scripture tells us that it’s better to give than to receive, and Williams has taken the sentiment to heart through the years.

He started with just 175 turkeys, but the event has grown to unexpected proportions. On Saturday, 2,000 turkeys, along with all the fixin’s for a proper Southern Thanksgiving dinner, were distributed to a long line of appreciative recipients, who were selected by community organizations based on need.

Kroger came on board this year to help sponsor the event. Associates donated $17,000 and served as volunteers during the event, Suffolk store manager Richard Green said. In addition, attendees enjoyed free Starbucks coffee, and the pharmacy provided flu shots and free health screenings at the event. Kroger also donated two pallets of water for volunteers to wash down their hot breakfast provided by Boogie’s Soul Food.

“I am excited to see even more families smile,” Williams said. “Knowing I am making a difference in their lives brings me joy. No man, woman or child should ever go to bed hungry.”

Impact Suffolk’s annual food giveaway, held in the Lake Meade Park parking lot Saturday morning, is another example of people looking out for those less fortunate. But the event imparts another, perhaps more important, lesson to people of faith in Suffolk: We can all work together to make our community a better place.

Impact Suffolk exists, in part, to advance the notion that the ecumenical church is even greater than the sum of its denominational parts. Without giving up the doctrinal ideals that separate them, member congregations choose to work together to advance God’s kingdom here on earth. And that’s an approach that honors the Christ the organization’s members all worship.

This Thanksgiving, even though I was unable to attend these two events, I am thankful for the people who made them happen, for the lessons imparted by their faithfulness and for the many people who were blessed by that faithfulness.