By Jennifer Tavares
By any objective measure, my family and I have so much to be grateful for. My husband and I have good jobs, my family is relatively healthy, we have a warm, stable house and vehicles in good repair, our children are doing well in school and have what they need, and even our pets are doing okay. We live in an incredible community with so much to offer, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
It’s not just at this time of year that we try to view the world through a lens of how fortunate and grateful we are; we’ve been intentional about considering this throughout the year. Doing this impacts our mindset, how we experience our daily struggles and triumphs, and our perspective of those around us and the world we live in. It helps us recognize and cherish all that we have, find balance on the difficult days, and know the value of the gifts we give and the people around us.
It is the reason that we choose to give all year long, and I know this rings true for many of you. Whether you contribute to United Way, the Community Foundation with intention of having widespread impact on several organizations – or whether you give individually to local non-profits doing the important work in our community – I know that so many of you give of your precious time, talent, and treasure. Thank you.
This holiday season, as we continue to recognize our good fortune and find ways to show gratitude, there are several organizations working hard to ensure that our community’s children, families, and senior citizens have what they need this holiday season. Here are a few opportunities for you, your family, or your office to support those in need:
— Cornell’s Elves Program: Last year, this program provided gifts for more than 1,000 children in 30 school districts. There are still children in need of “sponsorship” for the holiday season. As of last week, there were still unsponsored children in this year’s program. Could you, your family, or perhaps your coworkers provide warm clothing, new boots, and a few toys to just one child? Visit Elves.Cornell.edu.
— GIAC Giving Tree: This year there are 110 children participating in the program who, without your help, may not otherwise receive a gift this holiday season. GIAC’s youth participants range in age from 4 to 18 years old. To be assigned a child, contact GIAC staff member, Brandon Blas by phone at (607) 272-3622 via email at email@example.com. Visit CityOfIthaca.org/327/Greater-Ithaca-Activities-Center.
— Food Pantries or Foodbank of the Southern Tier: Make a donation to one of our many food pantries or to Foodbank, to help ensure that no families are without food during this important time of the year. A comprehensive list of Tompkins County food pantries is available at FoodBankST.org/foodpantriestompkins.
— Loaves & Fishes: Loaves & Fishes of Tompkins County is a Christian ministry that provides a place for free meals, hospitality, companionship, and advocacy for those in need, regardless of their faith, beliefs, or circumstances. Especially at this time of year, the work of Loaves & Fishes is so important, and your contribution of financial support or volunteer hours can make a difference. Visit Loaves.org.
— Foodnet Meals on Wheels: Foodnet Meals on Wheels’s mission is to provide meals and other nutrition services that promote dignity, well-being and independence for older adults and other persons in need in Tompkins County. Sometimes the check-in from a volunteer is as important as the meal itself – especially during the holiday season. Visit Foodnet.org/support.
There are so many more opportunities to give than I’ve listed here. My wish for you and your family is that you find yourselves happy and healthy, with a heart full of gratitude, and with capacity to give something to those less fortunate this holiday season.
And, if you have challenges right now that make this a difficult time for you – know that the Tompkins County Chamber and Convention & Visitor’s Bureau team and I are thinking of you with warm thoughts, and wishing you a bright, healthy, and more comfortable 2018. We look forward to working with you to support your goals for growth, community engagement, and prosperity in the year ahead.
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Jennifer Tavares is president and chief executive officer of Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.