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Yes, indeed, we should be
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Thankful. Although we specifically focus on being grateful for our many blessings at Thanksgiving, neither the blessings nor our awareness of them are limited to this time.

Veterans Day gave us opportunity to say "thank you" to our military protectors and to people like Pam Hamalainen whose planning brings such opportunities to the forefront.

However, families and friends of military personnel are consistently aware of various real and potential sacrifices. Our gratitude and empathy must also extend to caring for those with special after-service needs.

Groups like The Alliance of Churches capture attention as they offer special Thanksgiving dinners. Such groups are also actively engaged in offering services like health clinics, home repairs and thrift stores all year round. We can express gratitude by supporting them.

K.A.R.E. for Kids and Shoebox Ministries are definitely in the limelight at Christmas time, for which millions of children are grateful.

So are those of us who donate to those and similar "giving groups," because they organize our efforts and allow us to be silent partners.

I am so impressed when I see friends and fellow church members go well beyond the "expected."

Our church mission chairman, for example, gets her entire family involved in packing, receiving and transporting shoeboxes to the next destination on the way to distribution.

Sometimes we don't realize that many of those groups are also ministering in all seasons.

When disasters like Superstorm Sandy strike, people who normally are on the giving end of the spectrum often find themselves in the ranks of the needy. We who are thankful for the safety and comfort of our own homes can express that gratitude by a willingness to set aside some of our indulgences and give something extra to organizations devoted to helping those in such circumstances.

Unfortunately, we must also be careful not to be taken by scams, not only in reactions to disasters, but in many altruistic-sounding projects.

All year long, but especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, my mailbox and telephone are flooded with requests for donations. Those non-profits to whom I may have contributed through the years must share their donor lists with the nation!

Although some have been exposed as unsavory, probably most are legitimate; nevertheless, since I definitely cannot respond to all, I try to be selective.

And so this week, I join with you in lighting a small candle and being grateful for all the many groups, organizations and individuals who are dispelling the darkness of despair.

Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.