w/ shaughnessey sig, The Thanksgiving holiday is over, and I’m just now getting up off the sofa. Maybe just one more slice of pie.
This year, as in the past, we had about a dozen or so family members around the Thanksgiving table. My wife cooked a 23-pound turkey, meat stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli and cheese, cranberry sauce, shrimp cocktail, and, as if that wasn’t enough, she also cooked a pot roast, just in case somebody didn’t like turkey.
We had a dessert table that would have made the local bakery envious. God is good, and we enjoyed the bounty.
But what of those who just could not afford a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings?
Fortunately, there are folks like Nick Manolis, Bill Zounes, Roger Gagne and Pat Carrigg.
In the weeks leading up to the official kickoff of the holiday season, my phone at the office rang off the hook with people wanting to let me know about various food drives aimed at providing a Thanksgiving dinner for those needy folks in our community.
Manolis, who owns the Dracut House of Pizza on Lakeview Avenue, organized, for the 12th year, Project Helping Hands. With a small army of volunteers, Manolis was able to put together 450 food baskets together. Loading them into vans and cars, Manolis sent his army out into the streets on the Monday before the holiday.
Nick says his mother’s voice is in his ears as he accomplishes his task, which began in 1993 with 30 baskets.
“She taught me that if life has been good to me, which it has, I have an obligation to do good for others,” he once told me.
With each food basket, Manolis includes a small note encouraging the recipient to think about others when they get back on their feet. Many of his helpers are former recipients. The message seems to have taken hold.
Bill Zounes, Dracut’s veterans agent, also works behind the scenes, organizing a small food drive in conjunction with the American Legion that will guarantee a good meal for veterans and their families who are having difficulty making ends meet.
The thing about Zounes is that he’ll probably be embarrassed to be mentioned in this column. His work, not only at Thanksgiving but all year, is understated but effective. He has changed lives.
At Englesby Intermediate School in Dracut, Pat Carrigg’s students brought in food and clothes that will be distributed to families during the holidays. The students, fifth- and sixth-graders, had an ulterior motive and a goal. If they could raise enough in terms of food and clothes, they would get to see their principal, Robert Young, kiss a cow from Shaw Farm.
They reached their goal, and our photographers are waiting word as to when the smooch will take place.
Roger Gagne, who heads the Knights of Columbus, joined forces with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and got food baskets together to meet the needs of some 15 area families.
And the list goes on.
People getting up and actually going out to do something for someone else. They don’t look for publicity. They couldn’t care less if their names are in the paper. Their reward comes from the faces of the people who didn’t think they would get a Thanksgiving dinner or winter coat or a new toy this year.
This month there will be a countless number of organizations making sure that the less fortunate are well-taken care of this holiday season. The Sun Santa will do his best to identify and respond to those in need. On Dec. 17, Dracut resident Warren Shaw will host yet another Salvation Army radiothon on WCAP (980-AM) from 6 a.m to noon.
For the last 10 years, Shaw has helped everybody who is anybody in the world of local politics find their checkbooks and pitch in for a worthy cause. Shaw says that there’s not a lot of arm-twisting and the political elite are happy to contribute. Last year the six-hour radiothon brought in $25,000. Shaw said he would like to meet or surpass that goal this time.
So this year, as I polish off that last piece of pie, I’m thankful for those good folks who do what they can for someone else. We may not all be religious but the words of Jesus apply nonetheless.
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me.”
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is email@example.com.