Jewell Cardwell

A little food for thought as you lower your heads in prayer around the dinner table a la the Norman Rockwell portrait on Thanksgiving Day.

This comes from Terri Heckman, CEO of Battered Women’s Shelter & Rape Crisis Center (of Summit and Medina counties). Please be forewarned to have a handkerchief handy:

“While working on Thanksgiving preparations for the shelter residents in recent days, I spoke to a young child in one of our emergency shelters. I told her that I need to get a count of how many people we would be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for. She looked at me and made the simplest, yet deepest statement: ‘I don’t care what we eat. I’m just ‘thankful’ to be living here where no one fights.’ It made be think, how bad could it be at someone’s home that they would be ‘thankful’ for living in a shelter? I know that I often take for granted my wonderful, peaceful home. I often say I am thankful for my family and my life, but do I really accept the depth and breadth of that statement? Most of us are so very blessed that our thankfulness has become routine and the words ‘thank you’ are thrown around without much meaning or feeling.

“We need to be thankful for our peaceful homes, the love we share, our children’s health, memories of those who are now gone, and our true friends, near and far,” Terri continued. “We all should take the time to tell those we love that we are thankful for all we have.

“This is where I present you with this challenge. I am asking for you, this Thanksgiving, to spend a moment at your holiday dinner verbally expressing your gratitude for all you have been given. Pick one moment, one memory or one person and express your thanks. It will feel great!”

Also, think about making a donation to the Battered Women’s Shelter so that it may continue to welcome those who don’t have peace in their homes to take shelter from their storms there. And, yes, and sadly, they will be putting out the welcome mat — even on Thanksgiving — to women and children who had to flee for their own safety.

Do one of two things. Buy store brands at Acme Fresh Market, save and mail your receipts through Feb. 8 to Battered Women’s Shelter, c/o Kathy, 974 E. Market St., Akron, OH 44305. Or make a monetary donation. Checks should be made out to the Battered Women’s Shelter.

Shoebox campaign

After learning about Operation Christmas Child — which provides shoeboxes filled with all manner of hygiene and other practical items to poor children overseas, Willa R. Keith, coordinator of Akron PeaceMakers and a Girl Scout volunteer, said she was questioned by third- and fourth-graders in Girl Scouts Troop No. 1358 at Annunciation-St. John “who wondered why they couldn’t help people here in Akron in the same way.”

So, they began filling shoeboxes for children living at the Battered Women’s Shelter. “The first year they collected 27 boxes for the shelter,” Willa volunteered. That was in 1999. Since then the program has grown to include the participation of several other Girl Scout troops and has expanded to five shelters and other service programs. In the last four years alone, the troops have provided over 1,500 shoeboxes for men, women and children living in shelters during the holiday.

Even though the girls from Troop No. 1358 are now in college, their program is still going strong. Ellet Troop No. 1410 is leading this year’s 14th annual Christmas Shoe Box Campaign.

If you are interested in helping them meet the 400-shoebox goal for men, women, teen boys and girls and children up to 11 years old, fill a shoebox or a plastic container with hygiene items, hats, socks, gloves, small toys, books and more, including an inspirational note or card. Please drop the boxes off from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 7, 14 or 21 at New Horizon Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, Akron.

“Wrap the lid separately from the box, add a tag identifying the age group of the recipient and then drop it off at the church,” Willa instructs.

Burgers for those in need

Chris Elerick, owner of Jake’s Wayback Burgers at 1090 Williams Reserve Blvd., Wadsworth, is remembering the less fortunate this holiday season.

For the third year in a row, she’s donating 60 Thanksgiving turkey burger dinners to the local Salvation Army the first week in December for its clients.

Drive-thru donations

Clearview United Methodist Church, 1733 Massillon Road, Springfield Township, has partnered with Boy Scout Troop No. 304 in a Drive-thru Salvation Army “Red Kettle” drive from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It’s a matter of convenience, said church spokeswoman Sheila Knotts, adding, “People will be able to drive into the church parking lot, make a donation … without having to get out of their car.”

Special holiday tree

Big, beautiful poinsettias to Michael S. Carter for his poignant, straight-from-the-heart letter:

“I am making an attempt to bring to light the significance of a specific tree and participant [as it relates to Akron Children’s Hospital’s 32nd annual Tree Festival now through Sunday at the John S. Knight Center]. Shelley Carter’s tree — ‘Up, Down and Away’ won the best tree award this year. Year after year, for 10 years, she has been inspired by our son, Kade, 11 years old, who has Down syndrome.

“Each year the theme has been different with the goal of creating awareness for Down syndrome and the organization ‘The Upside of Downs’ and, of course, raising money for Children’s Hospital, the main goal. Each year she acquires many donations from friends in the community [those she knows and those she has never met], local businesses, Young [Elementary] School in Springfield Township and Kade’s current school Schrop Elementary [also in Springfield]. Each year her trees have been a success and her trees are the simple proof by profit. From this year’s 9-foot Santa in a Sleigh tree to The Grinch tree, the Soap Box Derby tree and the Ohio State Buckeyes tree to name a few. All of them incorporating a Down syndrome theme.”

So, please — dear readers — stop by and visit this very special Christmas tree, remembering all of the love Shelley put into it and to her son.

Dance party

Love dancing? The women of TWIG (Together With Important Goals) No. 13 will host a benefit “Holiday Dance Party” from 7:30 p.m. to midnight Dec. 7 at Paolo’s, 1 W. Exchange St., Akron, with proceeds going to Akron Children’s Hospital to benefit the hearing aid fund to purchase hearing aids for children who are uninsured or whose parents’ health-care plans sadly don’t cover the devices.

Tickets are $25 at the door and include light hors d’oeuvres, dancing, music by On the Mic entertainment and a chance to win wonderful raffle prizes, the likes of a weeklong stay in a Florida vacation home. Cash bar available. Donations of unwrapped toys are encouraged. Last year’s event raised more than $5,000 for the hospital.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or jcardwell@thebeaconjournal.com.