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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Thanksgiving is more than just a time to engorge ourselves alongside our families, whether nuclear or extended. We like to think that going around the table to share our reasons for thankfulness is an important part of the holiday too. Recognizing that we could not possibly all enjoy the privileged, cushy lives that we live without help from something or someone is important. Whether it’s our cell phone coverage, health care, tuition, housing, education or jobs, most students get substantial help and advice from parents, families, donors, good bosses or professors. While we live comfortably for the most part, we should highlight the places where giving is still needed — where on Thanksgiving, some will be worried about tuition, food or even shelter when they could be enjoying the company of loved ones. We applaud those who go out of their way to help the needy during this holiday season of generosity and thanks.

We don’t expect our wonderful professors to work for free, so we thank not only them but the people who make teaching and learning possible. Many students would not be able to attend UF if not for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, which was extended this year to provide full tuition for students receiving the top level of aid. We can all agree that more money toward our education, and occasionally in our pocket, is something to be added to the list of things we are thankful for, if not only to remind us that Florida Gov. Rick Scott did manage to do some good while in office. Given the left-leaning way the 18-29 year-old demographic voted in the last election, it’s something worth remembering.

We are thankful, too, for the scholarships that our university and the UF community offer us. One recent example was the parents of UF Student Body President Ian Green, who donated $100,000 to fund scholarships for students. Without the contributions of private donors like Green’s parents, and the rest of the contributions to the UF Foundation, we could not have UF as we know it because only a measly 18 percent of UF’s funding comes from the state alone. Private donors help attract and retain the aforementioned professors who we love so dearly.

We are thankful for the Field and Fork pantry. On this holiday of plenty with students returning home to feasts of turkey, it’s also worth remembering that nearly half of U.S. college students experience food insecurity. About 60 percent of those experiencing food insecurity also experience housing insecurity, according to the American Association of Colleges and Universities. We are grateful to Field and Fork Pantry for helping feed our fellow students in need, who may even be more worried about keeping a roof over their head.

In that same vein, we are thankful for the Long Foundation, which helped feed the Gainesville community by donating more than 188,000 pounds of food Thursday. Whether big or small, the act of donating or lending a hand is always appreciated.

One small way you can lend a hand to those most in need is to donate your new or gently used jackets, blankets or warm clothing to a coat drive at the Grace Marketplace, at 3055 NE 28th Drive, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The drive ends Dec. 12.

As we remember who we are thankful for, from professors to donors or friends and family, we are called on to give thanks by paying that kindness forward, whether by teaching, sharing food or donating a warm blanket. Thanksgiving is not just about sitting around the table saying thanks, even less so than it is about turkey or yams. We can all do the holiday justice not just by saying thanks but by going out and truly giving it.

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