At Thanksgiving, I like to reflect over the past year and count the many blessings in my life, even in difficult and unusual times such as this. I am fortunate to have my extended family happy and healthy, and the many good friends and acquaintances in my life who have helped me survive this pandemic.
The challenges with work present different opportunities each day to help improve the lives of Oklahoma’s children. I am thankful for the ability to work with people from all types of backgrounds who each want the same goal in their own ways: to create a better world for children.
There are thousands, if not millions, of child advocates working across the United States to improve conditions for youth, ranging from better educational opportunities; breaking down racial, gender and economic barriers; reducing the trauma inflicted upon children through Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACEs]; providing better health opportunities [especially during this pandemic]; and establishing programs that help increase achievement for those young leaders working to help their peer groups.
While many are workers, countless more are volunteers and donors – and one of the most important donor opportunities of the year is upon us here at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy with OK Foster Wishes. With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday in front of us, I would ask for you to consider helping to bless others as you have been blessed.
If you have a caring family, then consider supporting a less-fortunate family with a donation to a food bank or holiday gift program.
If you are blessed with a great job, consider donating some of your unused vacation time back to your employer if they have a buy-back program that helps support a non-profit such as the “Vacation to Donation” program that is growing here in Oklahoma.
If you have your health, please consider donating blood or plasma to help others who are struggling to survive in our overcrowded hospitals.
And, of course, if you have funds available, financial contributions make the difference during these times when most nonprofits are struggling to maintain budgets.
Giving Tuesday is more than just a day that groups plead their case for donations. It is a day when organizations can help shed light on their important work and provide a picture on the struggles faced by so many in our communities. It does not matter the size of your worldview; these efforts are occurring right around you.
As you look around – and if you are in the category of being fortunate – please keep your eyes open for those who are not so lucky. Doing whatever you feel reasonable could be what helps another family make it through these tough times.
Equally, if you are struggling, please do not be so proud as to let yourself or your loved ones suffer when help is available.
“Charity” should not be a dirty word when it is there to help those struggling and can be passed along when times finally get better. In fact, the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Even without the annual family gathering this year due to the pandemic, I plan on making lots of calls, spending quality time sharing stories just like we would on any Thanksgiving Day. It is just too important this year that we not put our loved ones at risk of spending the next holiday in the hospital with growing infection rates for COVID-19.
This year, while I plan on counting things for which I am thankful, and that includes each of you who take my words to heart from this column each week, I also plan on doing more to help others. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
– Former state Rep. Joe Dorman is CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy