Thanksgiving at “The Farm” has been a staple of my family’s holiday season for over five decades. What was perhaps originally intended to be a one-off gathering of family all the way back in 1963 miraculously perpetuated into a tradition that has endured through the passing of loved ones, familial hardships, and certainly a few burnt turkeys. Year after year, no matter the circumstance, we come together to break bread at the quaint farmhouse of our beloved aunt “Ree” and late uncle “J.D.” in rural southeast Kansas.
The earth has made 53 trips around the Sun since our first Thanksgiving together, but there’s no mystery as to what draws us back time and time again. You see, the Farm represents the ultimate idea of comfort; an earthly Eden where if even for just a few days out of the year troubles are mended by laughter, stress is drowned out to the tune of antique stories, and anxiety plays second fiddle to an abundance of delicious Thanksgiving treats. It is a comfort that can only be felt there, with those people, on that quaint time-rusted farm.
A state of emergency
This year that very comfort was threatened by something we take for granted far too often: access to clean water. Two days before Thanksgiving, a massive chemical explosion at an aerosol factory in nearby Neodesha, KS required the fire department to expend the clean water reserve and draw on the local river in its efforts to extinguish the flame. Run-off from fighting the fire seeped into the local basins and streams, infecting the county’s water supply.
The government issued a ‘State of Emergency’ decree and promptly shut off all water lines at risk of exposure. When I heard the news I began to contemplate Thanksgiving without immediate access to water. How would we cook? How much are we going to spend on bottled water? Where will I shower? All of these conveniences we typically overlook in our daily lives in America were suddenly (and almost poetically) deprived from us on a day dedicated to giving thanks for our blessings and privileges. After a couple days of subsisting off of bottled water, local community volunteers came together to provide clean water via emergency fill-up stations around the area. I had the pleasure of filling our empty gallon jugs at a station run by a man who drew thousands of gallons of clean, treated water out of his personal well for those without access. It was an amazing response to a serious problem by incredible people who made this year’s Thanksgiving at the farm possible.
The kindness of those volunteers in my moment of need was testament to the responsibility we all share to help our less fortunate Brothers and Sisters. With our support, non-profits like Water at Work Ministry serve communities so desperately in need of access to clean water. While we were able to continue our turkey day tradition without much of a hitch, the issue of access to clean and affordable water continues to disrupt the lives of over 1.1 billion people across the globe each and every day. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all of the incredible blessings God has given us. We have so much to be thankful for that we sometimes overlook the ease with which we satisfy our basic human needs.
#GivingTuesday is a day of giving back
With “Giving Tuesday” rapidly approaching and the opportunity to have your gift matched (for the first $7,500), I’d ask that you reflect on this post and consider joining me in donating to Water@Work, whose mission is dedicated to sharing the blessing of clean water with those who desperately need it.
Water is life, and for that, we can all be thankful. God Bless
About the author
The guest blog article was submitted by Mitch Fenbert, who is currently a Senior majoring in Finance and Real Estate at the University of Georgia. Mitch attends the Classic City Church in Athens, Georgia and is an Officer in Sigma Nu Fraternity. In 2013, Mitch fundraised over $12,000 for Water at Work Ministry through a golf event he created. He plans to spend his final spring break in 2017 volunteering with Water at Work in the Dominican Republic.