Better to give

Published 9:56 pm Monday, November 21, 2016

Whatever the temperature happens to be outside — and Saturday may have given us the last gasp of warm air for a while — the weekend before Thanksgiving is one of our favorite times in Suffolk.

It’s impossible to think poorly of this city while watching volunteers hand out donated food so families in need can enjoy a good Thanksgiving meal.

The city’s Impact Suffolk food distribution and the annual giveaway hosted — and largely personally financed — by LeOtis Williams are both such great examples of selflessness and generosity that they put the holiday season into special focus — and just in time not only for the recipients of the generosity, but also for those who help distribute at the two locations.

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On Saturday, as has been the case for several years, folks lined up to file past booths set up around the parking lot at the Howard Mast Tennis Complex behind the Farm Fresh supermarket on North Main Street. Volunteers from churches, businesses, civic organizations, schools and families smiled and wished them a happy Thanksgiving as bags were filled with canned vegetables, stuffing, cornbread mix, pasta, fresh sweet potatoes and cake mix and as turkeys were distributed.

There was a similar atmosphere of gaiety outside Williams’ business on East Constance Road, where about 2,000 turkeys were distributed, along with all the fixin’s for a Southern Thanksgiving meal.

Williams’ event has grown by a huge measure from the 175 turkeys he bought and gave away 14 years ago. While they waited in line this year, those receiving the food were also treated to breakfast in the morning and hamburgers and hotdogs as lunchtime neared. They were able to get free flu shots while they waited, and even their pets were taken care of, as the Suffolk Humane Society brought its pet pantry, handing out a truck full of dog and cat food, litter and toys.

Of course, those who received food at both events were richly blessed, and many were quick to share their gratitude. But, as with nearly any opportunity to serve others, the volunteers at both events likely found that the greater blessing was theirs.

It really is better to give than to receive.