This article appeared in the November 12, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Feeling frayed? Lessons from the first Thanksgiving.

Seeds of Caring
Aggie Barrington, 9, and her brother Patrick, 12, collect lunches in late summer 2020 from families in Columbus, Ohio, for distribution through the organization Seeds of Caring. So far, some 2,139 kids in Columbus have made 21,437 sack lunches for local shelters and pantries during the pandemic.
Husna Haq
Staff editor

A year of pandemic and political fatigue has left many of us feeling frayed. 

But reconnecting with the values that Americans commemorate around Thanksgiving and Veterans Day – gratitude and its offshoot, service – can open the door to new ways of thinking.  

Consider the spirit that prompted Native Americans to help Pilgrims survive a tough New England winter by giving them food, a gesture that was celebrated in the 1621 Plymouth feast. That same spirit motivated 9-year-old Aggie Barrington, when she visited a Columbus, Ohio, homeless shelter and found people could no longer eat hot meals together, to make sack lunches with her brother, Patrick, and deliver them to the shelter. Since March, more than 2,000 kids have made more than 21,000 lunches for hungry neighbors under the nonprofit Seeds of Caring.  

Volunteering offers a cornucopia of good according to research, including boosting empathy, inspiring a sense of purpose, curbing social isolation, even rekindling a feeling of shared national identity. 

Perhaps the real gift, however, is the change in perspective gratitude and service offer. Especially valuable during these times is the reminder that gratitude is a state of mind – regardless of circumstance. As the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic Rumi was reported to have said, “Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.” 

This article appeared in the November 12, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/12 edition
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