Thanksgiving launches a season that focuses on being grateful and compassionate.

Achieving that state of mind will no doubt be a challenge for many of us impacted by the continuing recession and the many challenges that are as individual as those who face them.

But it is possible.

During the busy holiday season it's easy to forget about those who are less fortunate.

Did you know that more than half of the children in our public schools qualify for free or reduced meals? Many of those same children don't have adequate clothes, including jackets and shoes. The need out there is real. There's no reason why children should go hungry or cold andndash; not just during the holidays, but all year long.

As you do your holiday shopping in the coming weeks, perhaps you can take a moment to donate a can of food to the food bank, a jacket to the school, or a dollar or two to a local charity.

For example, you can take advantage of a program at Fred Meyer that allows customers to donate their Rewards points to the Outreach Gospel Mission in Harbor. Or you can donate your time or supplies to one of the five Brookings churches that offer food and other basic items to the needy every week.

Also, the annual "Light Up a Life" campaign for Coastal Home Health and Hospice (formerly Curry County Home and Health Hospice) is currently under way andndash; look for brochures in your mailbox.

How about this: Make donating food or money to a worthwhile cause a new Thanksgivings or Christmas family tradition.

If giving food or money isn't your thing, then give your time. There are many of those who have suffered from job losses, from illness or a death in the family. Many are victims of circumstances that are beyond their control. Many will welcome a little compassion.

If you know of someone who is in a desperate situation, or is simply spending Thanksgiving or Christmas alone, invite them to join your family for the day, or take them out to a meal.

We are all part of a community that, no matter where we reside and what our situation, shares the precarious position of simplying being alive on this planet. And for that simple fact, we should be supremely grateful.


Speaking of Thanksgiving ... Anne Foley, a public school principal in Somerville, Mass., issued a memo earlier this year telling teachers not to "celebrate" Halloween, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving in their classrooms because they were "problematic."

According to a story by the Boston Herald, Foley said in a memo, "For many of us and our students, celebrating this particular person (Columbus) is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well."

Political correctness taken to the extreme? I think so.

First, Foley's argument ignores what the first Thanksgiving was andndash; and still is andndash; about: Giving thanks to God for his bountiful blessings.

Second, by banning Thanksgiving based on political correctness and sensitivity, one could easily forfeit nearly every holiday and celebration in America. The Fourth of July could be condemned because the Declaration of Independence didn't eradicate slavery, and Veterans Day because of the innocents who become casualties of war.

Where does the PC madness stop?

Right here, in this column.

I wish everybody a happy and entirely appropriate Thanksgiving day.