November, a time to give thanks, a time to express gratitude. My heart is very full of thanks, so let me share.

During the weekend of Halloween, youth at the church where I serve held a Halloween Maze to provide a safe fun place for children and to raise food for the local food pantry. The hard work they put into this was fabulous. They raised over 1,000 food items for the pantry that night.

That Saturday, Cub Scouts in Pack 188 worked with the United Way to Stuff the Bus. They spent from 9 to 3 in front of the South Haven Aldi in the snow and rain and brought in over 2,000 food items for the local food pantry.

My heart is filled with gratitude for these young people and their parents for their hard work. All too often we hear that young people don’t care or get involved. These young people did just that. And I am thankful they did.

I am also overwhelmed by the generosity of people in our community who responded by buying so much food. At the Stuff the Bus there were people who bought whole cases of food to donate. Some donated more food than they bought for themselves. Truly generous giving. There were even three people who came out and said they were helped by the pantry in the last year and were so thankful. They showed their thanks by donating food. People who were struggling, giving thanks, that is not what we often hear.

I’m thankful for Feeding America and their mobile food pantries. These pantries take excess food and feed hundreds. The ease of working with this organization is delightful. That there are no requirements to meet to obtain food cuts through the red tape that often keeps people away. It removes the stigma of people trying to stretch their food dollars. The gratitude people express for receiving food is heart-warming. The number of people who volunteer to help is another reason I give thanks.

Beyond food, I give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in our country, including the freedom to choose our leaders and to vote on proposals and ballot initiatives. Now, this past election, while I voted, the candidate I voted for was defeated as was the ballot initiative. I’m disappointed but also thankful that I had the opportunity to choose and express my views. Too many people complain and then don’t take the opportunity to vote. I can’t understand that. I am thankful for the freedom to vote and consider it a privilege.

Expressing my view on issues and life is another reason to give thanks. I appreciate The Herald-Palladium for giving me a platform to do just that. I am thankful that our area has a local paper that reports the news. I am thankful for the variety of opinion makers and columnists that are given space in the paper. There are many columns that I read that I disagree with, but I am thankful for the diversity of opinions and ideas. In a time of declining newspapers, I am thankful for this local paper and the people who work there. Thanks for providing a place for the exchange of ideas.

Life is full of disappointments and difficulties, including 6-plus inches of snow while leaves are still on the trees. Still, when we pause and look around, there is so much to be thankful about. As we approach Thanksgiving, may we have an attitude of gratitude. Thanks for reading this.

Jeffrey Dick lives in South Haven. His email is: