As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we might be tempted to moan and complain about how different it is due to COVID-19. It does promise to be a very unusual holiday, but we still have so much to be thankful for.

For starters, we can be thankful that this is the first year we’ve ever faced something like this and that our previous years have been mask free! We also can and should be thankful for the comfort of our homes. Just having a place to sleep that shelters us from the elements and provides heat is a blessing some do not enjoy.

A recent visitor at Family Promise of Shenandoah County (FPSC) can remind us all to be more thankful for such things. This little 5-year-old convinced her mother to stop by so she could thank all those who “helped her get a new house.” Although the house is not hers and it’s not new, to her it was everything and she just couldn’t live without thanking those who made it happen.

Sometimes we may characterize homeless persons as lazy or poor managers, but many of us either are or were at one time one paycheck or less away from homelessness ourselves. It can happen very quickly, especially during a pandemic when hours and incomes have been cut.

A single dad with a special needs son was especially grateful for the help Family Promise gave him to stay housed. He had been out of work since COVID started and he dipped into his savings to pay his rent. In October, his savings ran out and this man who had never been late suddenly needed help. Through grants and gifts, FPSC was able to keep them housed and he started a new job on Monday promising to donate to FPSC himself once he is stable again.

Another recent FPSC graduate said, “I honestly think I would not be alive if I hadn't come to Family Promise and gone through the program! Everybody was so supportive and always there for me and I tell everyone about FP and how they can help.”

While the staff worked with these families directly, all of their help is really the result of many people who work and give to make FPSC possible. Thanks to many generous givers and hard workers, this Christian ministry continues to help little girls and boys and their families stay housed or find housing they can sustain.

Due to COVID protocols we are not able to host in churches at present, but we are continuing to help families through motel stays and rehousing efforts. In addition, we are partnering to prevent families from losing their current arrangements and keep them from becoming homeless.

The annual appeal letters for this ministry should be arriving in mailboxes soon and this is an opportunity for each of us to help someone move out of their car and “get a new house.” Although we all can’t work directly with these families, our gifts make it possible for those who do to be successful. If you do not receive a letter and would like to help, you can mail your tax deductible gift to FPSC, P.O. Box 733, Woodstock, VA 22664.

Additionally, that little girl’s appreciation for those who helped them “get a new house” should be incentive for us to thank all who have helped us get and stay in our homes. Although we might like to think of ourselves as self-made, none of us are. Thanksgiving is a good time to remember and thank parents, friends, relatives, neighbors, bosses, veterans, and others who have helped us along the way.

Most importantly, let’s remember the blessings and help that God has poured into our overflowing cups. Too often we take His provisions for granted and fail to recognize the Giver of all our good gifts. And He has commanded us to use what He’s given to help others.

As we experience a different Thanksgiving this year, let’s realize how very much we still have to be thankful for and be sure to thank God and others who have helped us. Happy Thanksgiving! George

George Bowers is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren, President of Family Promise of Shenandoah County, and has authored 16 books. His books are available at Four Star Printing and Shenandoah Stuff. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.