In challenging times, we’re still thankful


Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, and in many ways, my favorite one of the year. It is the one day when, regardless of our background, ethnicity or religion, we pause to give thanks to whatever supreme being we worship to celebrate the many blessings we have in our lives, and give thanks for the opportunity to live in a nation that affords us freedom and the blessings of liberty.
Cherished loved ones, good health and happiness, successful careers — all of these are things for which we can, and should, be grateful. Reflecting on these blessings periodically is healthy, and makes the many challenges, stresses and pressures we all face in our daily lives a little bit easier to deal with.
Collectively, as a community, that’s just as important. Despite troubling times in the world and myriad challenges and issues facing us, there are many things our communities can be thankful for.
While rising costs of everything from food to clothing to other daily necessities are making it harder for all of us to make ends meet, so many people of all ages still find it in their hearts to give back. Residents are organizing or taking part in food drives, clothing drives and other programs that lend a helping hand to local families in need. Whether it’s large organizations like Island Harvest providing food to over 300,000 hungry Long Islanders; others, like Carroll’s Kitchen, cooking and delivering meals to the homebound; your participation in a local Kiwanis drive to support a community cupboard; or even Plainview’s St. Pius X Youth Group, which runs a Families Feeding Families Food Drive, working with two churches in Bellmore and East Meadow to help provide everything struggling families need to make their own Thanksgiving dinners, the outpouring of kindness and compassion is heart-warming and inspiring.
During a tumultuous and dangerous time in the wake of Hamas’ horrific, barbaric terrorist attack against Israel, good people are watching out for one another. They’re sending a loud, clear message that antisemitism — or any other kind of hate or violence against someone because of their religion — will not be tolerated in our community. That message can never be reinforced enough.

Although New York’s bail reform laws, and irresponsible policies like Clean Slate — which seals the records of criminal defendants and prioritizes the rights of criminals over victims — continue to make it harder to keep our communities and families safe and for law enforcement officers to do their jobs, our dedicated police, correction officers, firefighters, EMS, and other first responders still go out every single day and do everything they can to help protect us.
Look no further than the incident last summer in North Bellmore, in which an armed assailant in the middle of Jerusalem Avenue stopped traffic and brandished a gun at passing cars, to see the bravery, commitment and skill of our officers on full display. Their quick thinking helped prevent a tragedy, and they make that kind of effort on a daily basis. We should all be thankful for them.
Finally, on a personal note, I’m thankful to you for giving me the opportunity to serve you in the State Senate. Earning the community’s trust and confidence to be your representative in Albany is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had, and I cherish it dearly. I will continue working as hard as I can on your behalf.
May this holiday season fill your hearts and homes with peace, joy and hope in the knowledge that light will eventually triumph over darkness.

Steve Rhoads represents New York’s 5th Senate District.