DEPARTMENTS


A Helping Hand

By Stephanie Peake


As I write this, Thanksgiving is not long past. It's a time for gathering with family and friends, for stuffing yourself silly with all kinds of delectable food, and for watching football, or so I'm told. It's also a time to reflect on the things we're thankful for, like raspberry cobbler and buttery rolls and candied carrots. Not to mention loved ones, good health, enough to eat, a roof over your head, and so forth.

But what about those who aren't as fortunate? It's been a rough year for many people. One thing that springs immediately to mind is the impact of the drought. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, "about 80 percent of agricultural land is experiencing drought, which makes the 2012 drought more extensive than any drought since the 1950s" (www.ers.usda.gov/topics/in-the-news/us-drought-2012-farm-and-food-impacts.aspx).

From far too little rain, we jump to the other end of the spectrum with Hurricane Sandy. According to Wikipedia, this superstorm affected 24 states, with New Jersey and New York especially hard-hit (the storm also impacted Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas). Over 100 people in the U.S. died, and estimates of the damage continue to rise ever higher into the billions.

And those are just the tragedies that made headlines. There are plenty of struggles, all across the country, that don't make the front page. Times are tough, there's no denying that, but I think it's important to make efforts to reach out to others. What can you do to help those in need? We certainly can't bring rain to drought-stricken parts of the country, but there is drought assistance available - information can be found on the USDA website.

The Red Cross provided Thanksgiving meals in New York and New Jersey, where people are still grappling with the aftermath of Sandy. Wisconsin growers shipped 80,000 pounds of potatoes to Long Island. Case Construction Equipment shipped more than 3,000 die-cast construction machine models to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, after Sandy destroyed the organization's toy warehouse in Dover, N.J.

Here in northeastern Vermont, a local radio station has been promoting its annual food drive, calling on people to form teams and issue challenges, with the view that no one should have to choose between heat and food this winter. Here at the office, we're also doing our yearly food drive.

Helping others doesn't have to be expensive. After I leave work today, I'm going to go donate blood. All it costs is a little time and a pint of blood, a small price to pay for the satisfaction of knowing that I may have saved up to three lives. And for the doughnuts, let's not forget those.

Helping others doesn't have to be limited to your fellow human beings, either. There are foster programs for pets displaced by Sandy. And in this issue, you can read about how to lend a hand to native pollinators (see page A6).

Look around your community. Do you see any unfulfilled needs? I'd love to hear stories about how you've offered a helping hand.