Friday, November 18, 2011


       Every month I spend a Friday morning at Metro CareRing, a large food pantry (and more) in downtown Denver.  I began going last March, along with a BUNCH of DU students.  I decided that day that I would continue going monthly, whether I was joined by any students or not.  It has turned out to be one of the things I most anticipate every month.  Even more so in the last couple of months.
      When I first started going, my main role was to fill orders from the clients in the pantry.  I would be given a shopping list and I would fill it -- given the available items and my creativity ("Hmm, would they rather have spaghetti noodles or macaroni as 'pasta'?").  In mid-October, however, Metro CareRing went to a "client choice" set-up.  Now my role is as a "personal shopper;" I accompany the clients through the pantry, helping them negotiate the aisles, letting them know how many of certain items they may take, picking up heavy items, and so on.  The difference between this latter system and the former is amazing.  I actually get to interact with the clients, and they with me.
       Today was my monthly opportunity to be a "personal shopper."  As I anticipated, many of the clients were looking forward to Thanksgiving.  And they were all overjoyed to receive a turkey in addition to everything else.  I don't think I've ever heard the words "Thanks" or "Thank you so much" that many times in a few hours.  And I heard it not only from the clients, but from the staff -- both TO the clients, and to each other and the volunteers.
There was no sense of entitlement anywhere apparent.  All that was clear was gratitude.  Smiles and laughter were abundant.  The sense that "all is a gift" overwhelmed me.
      I began wondering, even before my time at Metro CareRing today, whether the "Thanks" on Thanksgiving are due only to God (and the cooks), or whether we might take the day a bit further.  Last week my office gave folks crossing the "Bridge" at DU the opportunity to write a Thank-You to ANYONE, and we'd deliver it.  Cards went to faculty and family, staff-members and sorority-sisters.  The avenues of grace are all around!
      So, next Thursday, somewhere between the hors d'oeuvres, the football games, the pumpkin pie (and inevitable subsequent naps), in addition to the thanks we render to the Giver of all gifts, maybe we can make some time to say "thanks" to the people who surround us, near and far, and who give us the everyday gifts that bring smiles and laughter to our lives.  That word can be a gift that never spoils or wears out.

Happy Thanksgiving,



  1. I sometimes feel I overuse the word "thanks." Your post reminded me I don't say it enough.

    Thank you : )

  2. Great reminder of why and how to be thankful, Gary. In fact you have inspired me to ask our students tonight as we celebrate a giving of thanks together on who or what person they are most thankful for this year and why. I like it when the thanks go both ways. I had a gentleman ask me for a burrito as I headed into the local Chipotle. I am not sure who was more thankful - me or the recipient of my good will. It was refreshing to be asked by someone who is living on the streets for something as tangible and basic as a burrito. I was thankful that I was being asked to help out with something I could give and actually enjoy giving. Be Thankful!

  3. Gary,

    I just belatedly read your Thanksgiving post. It moved me to tears. I wish I'd been on the bridge and been able to take advantage of the "thank you" card deliveries; that was a great idea!

    I, for one, am very grateful for you: your lucid wisdom, your honesty, your calming presence on our campus, the crucially important role you play here at DU for students, faculty, and staff. One of the highlights of my busy quarter was stumbling across the labrynth opportunity in the Fireside room and spending a half hour calming down. Thank you for YOU.

    Nancy Wadsworth