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COLUMN: Give thanks to those who share in serving others

'What strikes me is how incredibly generous people are, particularly in these times that are testing some.'
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Columnist John Liston

To whom much is given, much will be expected. If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for our gifts. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we share them to benefit others.

I’ve had the opportunity recently to spend some time with some people sharing their time, talents, and resources to help others. I attended the Rotary Club of St. Albert as they planned and spoke about several fundraising efforts to help the many they serve. The next day I was lucky enough to help unload a few cars as the giving people of St. Albert and the volunteer drivers and helpers brought 86 pallets of food to the St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village. On Monday, T8N100Men, and on Tuesday T8N100Women, each held meetings to learn about six charities to donate money to. I know there are many more examples each day.

What strikes me is how incredibly generous people are, particularly in these times that are testing some. “Give until it hurts” seems to exist — this attitude of gratitude is driven by a mindset of feeling blessed and thankful versus feeling like a victim. People who easily could be on the receiving end of help are quick to offer it. It gives us hope and optimism for the future.

I once heard the following, “As a woman and a man walked among the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable, they couldn’t help but wonder aloud how could this kind and loving God that so many talk about see this suffering and do nothing about it? After a long silence, they heard a voice and God said, “I did do something, I sent you.”

I couldn’t be more proud of the community we live in and the bunch of folks who are our neighbours who just reach into their pockets or pantries, show up at meetings or with work gloves on, and say, "I’d like to share in serving others." Thank you to you all.

Speaking of giving thanks, we are heading towards Thanksgiving weekend. Where did this tradition come from?

Traditions of giving thanks long predate the arrival of settlers in North America, according to First Nations across Turtle Island have traditions of thanksgiving for surviving winter and for receiving crops and game as a reward for their hard work. Later, in 1578, Martin Frobisher and his crew gave thanks at Frobisher Bay, in present-day Nunavut. Forty-eight years later, on Nov. 14, 1606, inhabitants of New France held huge feasts of thanksgiving between local Mi’kmaq and the French. Mi’kmaq introduced the French to cranberries, or as they called them, petites pommes rouges (little red apples). Cranberries, rich in vitamin C, are credited with helping avoid scurvy, saving many lives.

In Alberta we have a rich history of being thankful for being blessed with resources and the harvest, and we share them to benefit others. Who do you need to thank for sharing their gifts? A farmer, a teacher, a coach, a parent, a friend?

Having an attitude of gratitude and giving thanks costs little and is worth a fortune.

John Liston is a St. Albert resident active in our business and charity communities.