It is easy to become lost in frivolity during the holidays. While there is nothing amiss about lighthearted merriment, it is important that we don't let it distract or detract from the one of the most important reasons for the season -- service to others.
Like most Utahns, charity and compassion are values I try to incorporate in my personal life. The same holds true of my service in the U.S. Senate. That's why, for more than a decade, I have championed the passage of legislation each year making the Thursday before Thanksgiving "Feed America Day."
This is a day for each of us to forego two meals and donate the money we would have spent on food to charity -- a move that will tangibly and symbolically signal our support for Utahns and other Americans who are of lesser means and might otherwise go hungry. I hope you will join Elaine and me on observing this day that has become so important to so many over the holidays.
Of course, our charitable giving doesn't need to begin or end with Feed America Day. In Utah, there are a wealth of options and organizations for us to choose from in supporting people in need -- not only with cash but also with donations of food and other basic necessities.
One of them is Tabitha's Way Thrift Store and Food Pantry at 185 N. Main in Spanish Fork. This nonprofit in Utah County provides food, clothing, hygiene products, and school and baby supplies to low-income families. It accepts a variety of food donations, especially nonperishable food products. It further welcomes unwanted and unusable items for recycling, the proceeds of which are used to further its charitable endeavors
Similarly, the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake also welcomes food donations. If people are unable to deliver the food to the mission, the organization will dispatch a driver to collect the items. It can be found on the Internet at http://rescuesaltlake.org.
There's also the Salt Lake Community Action Program -- www.slcap.org -- which has set up five emergency food pantries in Salt Lake Valley and one in Tooele County that serve as collection points. These pantries provide Utahns with an efficient and convenient method to make food donations.
Many charitable organizations in Utah also offer volunteer opportunities. For instance, the Food and Care Coalition in Provo -- www.foodandcare.org -- welcomes volunteers who would like to provide aid in a variety of ways, including serving hot meals to those in need, donating gift cards and conducting food drives, just to name a few. And I would be remiss not to mention the Utah Food Bank, which acts as an umbrella organization by coordinating with and giving to other charitable organizations across Utah. Its website -- www.utahfoodbank.org -- lists food pantries in each county where Utahns can donate food or volunteer their time and talents.
So many Utahns have and continue to do exactly that, which is one of the things that sets our state apart. We have a longstanding tradition of buoying up those who are down and lending a helping hand to those who really need it. That's why I have every confidence that we will continue to rise to the occasion by giving selflessly of our time and means this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
May it ever be so, is my wish for each and every one of you. And may the happiness this season and service to others can bring abide this day and always in your hearts.
God bless you.