Giving Thanks and Giving Back

By Senator Patty Ritchie
Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie. Family, friends, the start of the holiday shopping season.  For many people, these things are what Thanksgiving is all about.

As you spend time with your loved ones this week, I ask you not only to think about what you’re thankful for, but also to think about the many different ways you can give back.

While many people will sit down for the biggest meal of the year on Thanksgiving day, there are people across Central and Northern New York struggling to put food on the table.  Many food pantries across our region are seeing significant increases in demand, and are being visited by people who have never had to seek outside help before.

Today, many people are having to choose between paying for food or necessities, like rent or utilities.  For a listing of places in our region where you can donate, visit the Food Bank of Central New York’s website at

In addition to food banks needing help, there’s also another large group of people in need right now, the victims of Superstorm Sandy.  It has been more than two weeks since the storm battered the East Coast, and many people are still suffering from the loss of their homes and businesses.

To help, I have organized a donation drive, where I’ll be collecting canned goods, bottled water, toiletries and other necessities for the victims.  If you’d like to lend a hand, items can be dropped off at my offices in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.  I’ll be partnering with Senator John Flanagan, who represents part of Long Island, to give donations to Island Harvest, one of the affected region’s largest hunger relief organizations.  The deadline for drop-off is December 1.

If you don’t have the means to make a donation to a food bank or the victims of a disaster, there’s something you can do that doesn’t cost a dime: volunteer.  From delivering meals through the Meals on Wheels Program to volunteering with your local SPCA, there are so many opportunities for getting actively involved and making a difference by donating your time.

These are just several ways you can help—and there are surely many, many more.  I ask that as you reflect on the things you are grateful for this week, that you make it a point to put the “giving” back in Thanksgiving by doing something to assist others in need.

From my family to yours, happy Thanksgiving!