Thanksgiving for the Needy
Throughout history, there have always been those needy human beings who lacked food, clothing, income and shelter.
Mothers and fathers often feel guilty because they cannot give their children the basic celebratory items of the holiday season. Children can’t understand why they must do without the widely advertised, delicious-looking dishes of a day such as Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, there are outreach organizations throughout the Gulf Coast and Pine Belt regions — such as the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, Kiwanis, and Community Christian Concern — which, through year-round fundraising projects, provide some relief to the needy of various communities.
Paul Arguelles, Past Grand Knight for Biloxi Knights of Columbus Council 1244, calls the organization a “stand-alone” council, not connected to any particular church parish.
“After the storm [Katrina], populations of many neighborhoods changed,” Arguelles said. “New people moved in and some families never returned. We minister to the five parishes of our [Biloxi] area that do not have a KC council.”
He said the church parishes falling in this category include Nativity Cathedral, St. Michael’s, Blessed Seelos, Our Mother of Sorrow, and Christ the King.
It is in these churches that the men’s organization provides each fall for those in need.
“The annual food basket program went from 120-plus baskets before Hurricane Katrina to more than 500 food baskets at Thanksgiving each year,” Arguelles reported.
“We have a special relationship with the St. Vincent De Paul Societies at each parish,” he said. “Each holiday season we provide funds to include turkey and ham in every basket they deliver.”
The Knights of Columbus is only one of the many faith-based and nonprofit charity groups helping the less fortunate among us during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
Collections of non-perishable food items from generous supporters usually starts at the beginning of October. By the second week of November, funds collected are spent on perishable food. All these foods are tastefully arranged in baskets and boxes for distribution to long lists of the needy.
Deputy Grand Knight Al Perrit, of Knights of Columbus Council 6872, said: “We cross-check the lists for duplicate requests. In this way, we insure enough funds are available so that all needy families and seniors can prepare celebratory dinners and give thanks at home.”
These types of lists are assembled and submitted to the benevolent organizations by churches, schools, clinics, and senior centers from across the many Mississippi counties.
Spokespersons for other coast organizations were willing to share information about how and why they have programs to comfort the needy. However, most insisted it be without individual kudos for helping others.
On Thanksgiving Day, there are still some needy individuals who don’t have a home in which to cook a dinner. Therefore, there are many churches and faithbased facilities throughout the Gulf Coast and Pine Belt that open their fellowship buildings’ doors and invite the needy homeless as their guests, to be served delicious Thanksgiving dinners cooked by church members. Many who worship at those centers even sit with their own families among the needy to make all feel welcome and to express inclusion.
In whatever way your family’s Thanksgiving love or gratefulness or generosity is carried out this year — whether it’s through donating, volunteering or just showing kindness — make it always sincere and from the heart. Hopefully, the needy will reach out also and allow love to prevail.
Lynne Adams Barze’ was born in the Faubourg Treme’ of New Orleans. She moved with her husband to Picayune in 1999 and loves the state of Mississippi. Barze’ has penned five novels, freelances for magazines, owns an antique mall, and is a “proud cat parent.” She’s a member of GPAC and the Picayune Writers Group.