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Giving thanks for those who are going to gift a thanksgiving to those who are our mortar.

November 18, 2012


I have spent four crazy busy days pulling together what will be the most amazing and fun Thanksgiving that I have ever been a conduit of.  I have loved the past 6 Hope and Friendship Community Dinners but this Thanksgiving, this one will be simply amazing!!!!  I went 20 hours straight on Thursday following with a 16 hour Friday trying to gut out more but Friday night as I stood with eyes closing at the Police Station I was told by one of my brothers to go home and get sleep (in all kindness of course J).  So I followed orders and crashed into an 8pm bedtime, but woke up at 2am charged and ready to continue working on this amazing gift that was developing!


I sent out a request to help gift our homes that are struggling and gift them with a Thanksgiving Traditional Turkey and you responded with such compassion and generosity that while getting something out of a drawer today I set sight on a picture of my dad and had tears come to my eyes.  I told him he would be so very proud of the acts of kindness that were happening from the foundation created to memorialize him.  He would’ve been the very first person to supply a turkey to a home in need and accompany that with every thing he could round up.  To be a witness to this compassionate and giving life still rippling out acts of kindness 7 years after he has left this earth is a testament to paying it forward in the most beautiful and wonderful way that I could have ever have imagined.


So as the gifts of turkeys came pouring in I sat down and looked at my list of those that I keep of struggling friends.  We obviously have a sector of our community that live at or below poverty level, thus qualifying for the Lemont Food Pantries, but what I love about the importance of the Hope and Friendship Foundation is that we are not limited to only assist those whose homes struggle at the government limits of poverty.  What about those 2%-20% above?  What about those that can only budget $50 a week for food for a family of 4 or 5 with no food vouchers or SNAP benefits??


After I realized that we would most likely have more turkeys than needed just to gift to those at our food pantries I started reaching out to those that I know who are “just above that level”.  Those that our churches and schools have been concerned about.  Those that I have met from recent death notifications, unable to even function and think let alone shop for Thanksgiving food.  Those who were too busy working every possible hour to see the note that I forwarded offering a turkey for their home.  I added 15 more.  I receive shocked and tearfilled responses of “I never expected that help, I would love to have a turkey if possible”  or “We weren’t going to get one but if you have an extra we would truly appreciate it”.


An couple appreciative texts from our homes at that level gave me the 2nd, maybe 4th wind I needed:


“That would be a huge blessing.  His unemployment came on Friday and they only gave him half payment.  We don’t know why but are dealing with it.”


“You do so much and to be honest it is the ones that have less that always seem to give because they know what it is to not have.  We have been the ones giving before and hope to be again soon.”


“Thank you for all you do, time are tight lately and you are ever so gracious and generous with your acts.  He has been trying to work as many hours as possible but all extra money has gone to food (with the 4 kids).  We were talking today about how we didn’t believe people like you who try to help those who are struggling to hold on to hold on exist anymore.”

We do exist and there are many.  I am only a conduit of those who are trying to help you hold on.  I texted back that I personally have nothing to offer but my voice and that all that was happening to give them that feeling of hope was from many friends around them that cared to share what they could.


I have been scrutinized more over the past year as the word of Hope and Friendship has spread.  I have been questioned as to how do I know they are in need.  Questioned as to why someone who is struggling doesn’t just go get a job that would supply a better income for his or her family.  Even questioned as to why I choose to get the shoe gift cards from Kohl’s and only gift 12 kids with shoes when Walmart or Payless would have surely benefited more children with shoes.  I used to crumble with criticism, but not now, not with the determination I have to lead this group of supporters strongly in the direction of filling the needs in our community.  Now I actually welcome the questioning because I want you to know, believe and trust that I am committed to bettering our community and the friends’ lives that reside in it.  So as I looked at our list of friends that would really love to have a turkey it hit me that we were supporting our mortar.  I saw those that serve us coffee, that work at our Goodwill Store, at our local restaurants, at our food stores in town, drive delivery trucks, work at our local department stores and at the gas stations that surround our community were ones that would not have the funds to purchase a $15-$20 turkey.  I realized that if these people “went and secured a better paying job for themselves” (which first of all is highly unlikely since even college educated friends have told me they cannot find work) that we would be in quite a mess.  Who would hand you your morning coffee?  Who would deliver the food, clothing, or store stock to the stores?  Who would be our cashier?  Who would be our server, cook, or bartender?  Who would clean the houses, offices? Who would be the childcare person that allowed you to continue onto your job secure in knowing that your most prized love is in capable and caring hands?  These friends hold our lives together.  They are the mortar to our society.  They are working the minimum and slightly above minimum wage paying jobs whose employers if closed we would be lost without.  If all of the minimum wage jobs became obsolete (the alternative to make them $20 an hour job at a $2 coffee venue will not be the best business move) our world would be quite different.  And my response to getting the 12 shoe gift cards at Kohls instead of Walmart or Payless was that I will always first and foremost support our community businesses.  If we don’t shop local we will lose those businesses, our taxes go up, we have to pay more to gas companies to drive further, and more importantly we lose the local jobs that support many of our friends.  We must support our local businesses in turn benefitting our community in so many ways.  That answer passed the test I guess.  No second questioning J


Tonight I am thankful for the mortar.  I am thankful for those seemingly “unimportant low paying jobs” that need to be held up to a higher standard and appreciated more.  And I tonight I sit here working on the list of those that will receive Thanksgiving Turkeys to cook when they are able, on their day off whenever that may be in the next week and I am so very thankful for those that are going to make that achievable.  If all falls into place as I hope it will, you will have made it possible to bless 71 homes in our Lemont Community, and had I known this was conceivable and had more time there would have been more that I included.  With that in mind, prepare for the most amazing Christmas mission this corner of the world has ever seen!  I can see 100 homes that could use the gift of a fully prepared Christmas Dinner made with TLC delivered to their door!  We have homes that are so crippled with sickness or grieving that Christmas is a dagger through their heart rather than the celebrated holiday that most homes experience.  I spoke to the brother of one of the two death notifications I had last week and his elder sister is in the darkest period of life that she has ever experienced.  Christmas will be more difficult for this and many more homes that have experienced loss or a recent life threatening health diagnosis.  We’ll talk about this after we get through making turkeys fly to the homes that hold our mortar and our struggling.


If you have promised a turkey, side dish, or dessert plan on having it arrive at the Lemont Township Office by 3pm on Tuesday.  We only have 2 hours to sort, bag, and send off for delivery these 71 gifts from you and our community.  We need to be cleaned up and out of the Township by 5:15 for another group.  We can do this!!!  You have already proved the impossible is possible.  You have promised a unaffordable, or difficult to afford, traditional meal to 226 persons in 71 homes in our community.


I am so very thankful for you.  You are pure beauty of the heart and I am blessed to be apart of what you felt was important to act on.  May your Thanksgiving be fully blessed and wonderful!


Wishing you much love, peace & thanks,



Terri O’Neill-Borders


Hope and Friendship Foundation

721 Hickory St

Lemont, IL  60439



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