Show your thanks by giving

Published 10:31 pm Monday, November 14, 2016

For the well off, the holiday season can be one of the best times of the year. Family, food, gifts and laughter in the comfort of heated homes are the hallmarks of the holidays for those folks.

But, for the less fortunate, it can be a time of misery as they long for the aforementioned scene. They are simply trying to survive.

However, there are several members in the community who have stepped up to provide for the needy.


Email newsletter signup

I was flooded with emails and information about Thanksgiving drives and food drives going on within the community.
In the past, I haven’t been exposed to this degree of philanthropy during the holiday season.

Where I grew up, it was mostly corporation-sanctioned food drives dominating the area. However, here in Suffolk, which I think is a testament to the city’s southern hospitality, there are quite a few drives conducted by local citizens.

LeOtis Williams and Impact Suffolk are among the notable names that have had Thanksgiving drives for many years. Also, first-timers such as Trivelle Gambrell have stepped up to serve this year.

It is truly inspiring to see how selfless the Suffolk community is and its heart of servitude.

However, I challenge us all to take it a step further.

Let’s show this same philanthropic effort during “unorganized” times in the year. There is almost an expectation to give and serve during the holiday season.

However, just think for a moment, how often do you give and serve outside of the holiday season? (I’m talking to myself as well.)

Without a doubt, there are still people starving and in need during the other months of the year. So why don’t we give during those times as well?

Yes, this is uncomfortable. Yes, we have bills to pay. Yes, we can’t help everybody.

But, if we let these excuses fester in our minds, we will never take action. It all starts with that first step.

As a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, I came across homeless people on a daily basis on my way to and from class. Often, I would give the few dollars — with an emphasis on few — I had in my wallet.

However, there were cases when people told me their predicaments, and I would be inspired to give more than a few measly dollars and to withdraw from my bank account to help.

There were times I would see people hunched outside of convenience stores, and I would ask if they would like something to eat and drink and I would do it.

I say these things not to portray myself as God’s gift to the world but to show that you can give outside of the holiday season, because people are in need every day.

What saddens me is the people on the streets who are asking for help are often treated like animals.

These are people too. So treat them as such.

Even if you can’t give at that time, at least address the person as a human being and move on. Far too often, I see people walk past and ignore outreaching hands and pleading.

We can all be a paycheck away from living on the streets.

I say all this to say, Suffolk is a class act for philanthropy. But, I challenge us to give in times that aren’t expected of us. It can be uncomfortable, but by giving, you are bringing comfort to those who need it.