STRAIGHT TALK: Giving thanks

Steve Stefanides

Today as we sit with family and friends and enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving meal and enjoy a full day of football and should be thankful for much that we tend to take for granted and remember the many who may not be as fortunate.

Today, men and women stand on shores thousands of miles away from their families to insure we might enjoy this wonderful holiday. They carry out the same tradition of proud service to their nation as did my dad and my generation. We should never minimize their absence from their loved ones as they serve to protect us, and that sacrifice should always be in the forefront of our minds.

We should also pause to recognize the sacrifices of our own public safety personnel who are on duty throughout this holiday period and are also away from their families. Their commitment to our citizens and our communities know no holidays, as they too stand a thankless vigil to protect lives and properties, while missing these special occasions with their families and loved ones.

Both our military and public safety personnel are all too aware of the challenging times we live in today and how those challenges might affect them. They do so with a great pride and dedication to us all, and for that we should be very thankful.

Not all will enjoy the same sense of fulfillment as the majority us will on this special day. Some our suffering through their own set of challenges; medical, psychological and physical ailments will inhibit many from smiling today. We do, however, have many agencies, church outreach groups and volunteers who give countless hours to help those in need.

Thousands of meals will be served through St. Matthews House, the Salvation Army and other organizations throughout our respective communities. Shelters are also available to help house those in temporary need of a clean and safe place to stay, which will be a comfort to those in need.

Here on Marco Island more than 500 volunteers came together two weekends ago to package 232,000 nutritious meals to help feed the hungry as part of the Meals of Hope effort. Each year the residents of the island help to raise the money to purchase the ingredients and then in November the meals are packaged and distributed through the Harry Chapin Food Bank and other charitable organizations throughout Collier County.

We live in an area of the nation that enjoys the finest of climates, with warm breezes and gentle waves breaking on the shorelines of our pristine beaches along the Southwest Florida Coast. Through the efforts of dedicated and caring educators our children are provided with the foundations to create a wonderful future for themselves.

Organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions Club, the YMCA and so many others are on the front lines of ensuring so many with so little are not forgotten.

Our city manager, along with our professional city staff, strives to provide our citizens with excellent service. The members of our advisory boards, which give of their time and knowledge deserve our thanks for a job well done as they work through complicated issues and challenges.

We also are fortunate to live in an area of the nation that offers outstanding health care and facilities, as many of our residents have increasing requirements for those services.

All in all we live in a wonderful place. Yes, we have challenges and there are those that need a helping hand on occasion.