The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Thanksgiving has always made me thankful for my community. This has always been because of my younger cousin, Shane. When he was only seven, he came up with the idea that he wanted to help those in his community who could not afford to eat. Which is when he started his own pantry in Carver, Massachusetts. This is the place where it showed me how much the community likes to support each other. People often like to help in the world but don’t know where exactly to start, which is when the Shane Gives Thanks Food Pantry began to get very busy. They have made all types of programs from lunches for students whose families couldn’t provide meals over the weekend, to Thanksgiving and other holiday baskets for those who can’t afford to go all out for meals. This pantry is where I dedicate the majority of my time. I love going to events and seeing the joy in the community and seeing all those around gather in support of each other.
It wasn’t until December 2021 that our community really showed me how much they stand with each other. Right before Christmas, my cousin was really sick and got rushed to the emergency room… where he was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. Words that would make any family’s world fall apart. My perfectly healthy and always joyful fifteen-year-old cousin was now in the intensive care unit, leaving us all in shambles wondering how we could piece together everything. At that moment, the GoFundMe was started, and the numbers climbed quickly. Messages were left in support, and the community stepped up in support of him. Bracelets and shirts were made by our family and sold in an attempt to help with medical costs, but our community refused to let us handle this on our own.
This is the first Thanksgiving that Shane won’t personally be handing out Thanksgiving baskets to each family. However, he has somehow given our family the strength to keep the pantry up and running. The baskets will be made, all thanks to the donations to the pantry. The community never let up their support for him. They increased their donations of food to the pantry and even the money to the funding page. Hundreds if not thousands of letters and cards were sent all addressed to him, sending positive messages, prayers, and their own stories. Yet it did not stop there. Our community spread from just the small town of Carver Massachusetts; NFL teams also began to send out their support. Team members have sent personal videos, and they have sent jerseys and signed footballs. The New England Patriots even invited Shane and some of our family to a game where they accommodated his needs and even invited him and many people who have been affected by cancer to take a walk across the field before a game.
These hardships are what made me realize how important community is. It isn’t just about those you know, but strangers who share stories and are willing to step up and help you when you need it the most. Thanksgiving is a time when it matters the most as well. During this time it is a necessity to donate to food pantries and even volunteer if you can. Pantries always need extra hands but often will be running short-staffed. Communities are schools, towns, families, counties, states, and even nations. Now is the best time to step up and help those around you because you never know when the time will be too late. Hug your families, check up on the community and nonprofits around you that may be in need of a hand, and never second guess if you’re not feeling right. It is better to be safe than sorry, support is the most important thing during the holidays.