Have Someone You Are Thankful For? Rob Says, Pay It Forward!
by Rob Lucas,posted Nov 27 2013 5:01AM
I'm spending part of Thanksgiving day delivering meals in the Town of Tonawanda to the aged, needy, and some who are not physically able to go out for Thanksgiving dinner. My role is no big deal, I just show up at St. Andrews (Sheridan Drive) gym on Thursday morning, load up, and take a couple of hours, at most, to deliver. But I do want to take a few paragraphs to give thanks and salute the people who are doing the real work to make Thanksgiving day better for others, and have taught me some things along the way.
The first is Dan Wiles, the former Director of the Town of Tonawanda Youth Parks and Recreation, and now the head of Ken-Ton Meals On Wheels. Dan is not just a community leader by title, but very simply is the type of person we should aspire to be like. The formal Thanksgiving dinner in the gym and meal delivery I'm helping out was started 30 years ago as a Tonawanda Eagle Scout project, and was then adopted by the Sertoma Club. Four years ago Sertoma disbanded, but asked Dan if he would take over the dinner. He agreed, and the last three years Dan has had Kiwanis, Lions, and Zonta clubs sponsor the effort through funding and manpower. Dan also gets different people to donate three dozen turkeys and forty to fifty pies each year, for the huge meal in the gym for the needy, and deliveries for those who can't leave the house.
Last year, after I explained that I've been wanting to donate some private holiday time away from my radio work, which is kind of tough to do since we work with so many charitable organizations over the year, Dan recruited me. 2012 was my first year delivering, and with the help of my nephew Noah, we had a great time putting smiles on faces on Thanksgiving Day. This year, I wanted to do a little more. So when Dan said they were running a little low on dessert pies (they need about 50), my wife Linda and I decided to make up the difference.
Now, you just don't walk into Tops, buy 20 pies, and clear the shelves leaving other shoppers without...you wanna give them a little heads up. So I called the other special person I want to give thanks for, Kathleen Graim, Community and Communications Specialist for Tops Friendly Markets. In asking her how to go about placing such a big order, can I pay w/ credit card, etc, she said very simply..."This is a great thing you guys are doing...this one is on Tops. If you wanna make a donation to your favorite charity with the money you would have spent, please do so, but we have this covered."
I know Kathleen very well. She was not just doing this to get free publicity for her supermarket. She isn't aware I'm posting this blog. But as I said about Dan, Kathleen is someone who we also should aspire to be like. A leader not only in her business duties, but her in her devotion to community, and the people she touches.
Working in the media, it's not a normal life. It's easy to get cynical, jaded, accustomed to perks most will never enjoy, always being on the lookout for the next trend, being the center of attention, while forgetting about, for lack of a better term, what life is really about. Even though many media personalities won't admit it, they know those words are true. Just spending a few hours doing something for someone on a holiday, that isn't required by your job, or boss, is invigorating and energizing. Grounding.
So I give thanks for Dan Wiles of the Town Of Tonawanda, and Kathleen Graim of Tops Friendly Markets, for helping 300 + people have a Thanksgiving this year, and letting me have the tiniest of roles in the process. And there are probably so many more stories of their generosity than just the one I have highlighted.
And before I go to Tops at Delaware and Sheridan to load up on Apple, Cherry, and Lemon Meringue pies, I ask you to pay their work forward.
Who needs help around your neighborhood? Can you help out on something like this where you live...or maybe start your own? It doesn't have to be for a holiday...maybe just on some summer Saturday. Start asking around, and you'll be surprised what you find out. And someday, someone in need will be thanking you for helping...