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My favorite quote about gratitude comes from the poet Edward Arlington Robinson, who describes “two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.”
And on this Thanksgiving Day, that’s what I’m going to remember. Yes, we are all thankful for what we have, but it doesn’t have the same sheen as a realization of what we can give.
In my new calling as a member of the Stake Public Affairs Committee, I’ve been coming across nearly countless examples just in my area alone of members who’ve stepped up, initiated programs, and been inspiring examples of Christlike giving. Several ward youth groups have provided hundreds of meals for the hungry (including set-up, serving, and clean-up). These same youths have performed hundreds of baptisms in the temple, for names they’ve personally found.
One woman and her husband loaded their suitcases with crowbars, tools, underwear, and everything else Texas flood victims might need, then flew there to personally help out (and elicited shipments of other donations, still pouring in).
Another woman in my stake runs an ongoing food pantry and clothing supply for the needy, year-round. Still another has filled truck after truck with furniture and supplies for the fire victims of northern California. For fifty LDS families, she found people who would donate church artwork and books, throw pillows, furniture, even a piano—to help make their new homes feel warm and welcoming. She also asked Deseret Book to donate nativity sets and books to these same families, and they swiftly responded.
Thanks to justserve.com fire victims were provided with 5,000 ash sifters, made mostly by LDS volunteers, to help them sift through the rubble of their burned homes.
Several members of my stake are involved in interfaith choirs, and have joined with those of other religions to combine efforts to supply Days for Girls toiletries and clothing, emergency supplies, and food for the homeless. In just a few weeks, the gigantic annual Nativity Exhibit will, as always, include choirs and music from many other local faiths.
A Relief Society President switched from the annual Relief Society Christmas dinner to a Sub-for-Santa gifts and wrapping night to benefit local nonmember families in great need (and it drew a bigger crowd than ever, so she’s repeating it this year).
The local justserve.com representatives have learned of dozens of opportunities they can post for ways families and individuals can spend a few hours giving of their time to make a huge difference for others. The array of options are mind-boggling.
And this isn’t just in my stake. Similar good works abound in our wards and stakes across the world. Countless Latter-day Saints—and others– are hastening the work of charitable service. More and more people are learning of the tremendous help they can give by donating to the LDS Church’s Humanitarian efforts as well. Word is getting out that every dime goes straight to the cause.
So this Thanksgiving, let us all pause—and teach our children to pause– and give thanks not only for what we have, but for what we can give. That’s gratitude in action.