Published On: Fri, Dec 2nd, 2016

We Have So Much to be Thankful for

With Thanksgiving in our rearview mirror, it is only appropriate that we pause and reflect on the many gifts in our lives and, perhaps, remember those among us who need our help – every day of the year.

We have the usual, good health, friends, family, loved ones and yes, an abundance of food.

As journalists, we’re thankful for the First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution, which gives freedom of press, speech, religion, petition and assembly. We are also thankful for the democratic process and the diverse community that we cover.

Locally we are thankful for two organizations that have consistently made sure the needy in our community have a warm meal, and may I say, much love during this season.

Words are not adequate to express our gratitude to Boca Helping Hands and the Wayne Barton Study Center.

Volunteers decorated the Food Center at Boca Helping Hands with every autumn hue they had as they served thousands this year. Thanks to the Boca Raton Resort, they also served at least 750 meals to the homebound at their west Boca distribution site.

It was so heartwarming to learn that an anonymous donor loaded 88 turkeys into Fire Chief Thomas Wood’s pickup truck and directed him to the Food Center.

Despite the sluggish economy, officials at The Wayne Barton Study Center estimated they fed at least 3,600 children and families a hot meal including all the trimmings. That’s about 800 more than the 2,800 they served last year.

Attendees also left the gymnasium with backpacks filled with canned goods and items for Thanksgiving dinner.

Kudos to the volunteers from Above and Beyond Community Church, Herbalife Distributors (Miami) and CBRE who worked their hearts out.

Like these two charities, there are several other nonprofit organizations that did an outstanding job in our communities this year.

Our municipal governments also stepped up. One in particular was the Community Improvement Department in Delray Beach. Under the leadership of my friend, police Capt. (Ret.) Michael Coleman, that department put the community back into Community Improvement. Employees passed out 695 turkeys to residents in the parking lot at Atlantic High School the evening before Thanksgiving. It was such a beautiful sight to see Mayor Cary Glickstein passing out turkeys. It was even more gratifying to see that unlike many politicians, he was there to work and not just  for a photo opp. He stayed the entire two hours. Also present were principal Tara Dellegrotti Ocampo and assistant police chief Javaro Sims.

This year has made us thankful for the strength and comfort found in community. Right here in Palm Beach County we were thankful that Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old Treasure Coast resident did not head south and unleash his wrath in June.

We saw the friendly faces and concerned friends come together after he killed 50 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in America’s history.

All of us can be thankful that we live in a place as stunningly beautiful as Palm Beach County. Let’s face it, where else, except in the tropics, can we dress like we do here year round?

After three decades in this paradise, I’m still finding wonderful places to discover and explore. We are three hours from Key West, four hours from St. Augustine and OK, three hours – by my driving habits – from Orlando.

I saw and heard from concerned citizens on both sides about what the Brexit decision and U.S. election meant for their loved ones. And despite the tempers that flared after the recent results, we kept our calm – at least locally. For that we ought to give thanks.

I recall each time we lost a celebrity or a talented musician this year, there was an outpouring of admiration from fans. It should not take tragedy or anger to bring a community together though, but times like these emphasize the strength that can be found in numbers.

And I, more so than many, am thankful for good health and wish all those suffering from cancer and ill health patience, courage and hope in their healing.

Finally, I am very thankful for the people brave enough to serve this country, in all the branches of the armed forces, wherever they may be stationed. I am grateful because they allow me to do what I do. Without them, I don’t write freely, I don’t joke about politicians, I don’t criticize or condemn or congratulate.

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