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STEPHEN HEMELT — Much to be thankful for, including Holly Days fundraiser

Some people are struggling to embrace all we have to be thankful for, especially with the tumultuous turns of 2020 seeming to never end.

It’s easy to get bogged down by civil unrest, a near toxic political landscape, the worst hurricane season on record and the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m one of those people, so there is no magic answer I’m aware of that can snap someone into a joyous state-of-mind. For me, being happy is best accomplished by embracing a thankful mindset.

My wife and I are blessed with two children, each working hard at school to earn honor roll status. They, shockingly, still think it’s OK to hang out with their parents despite being in fourth and seventh grade, respectively.

They have friends in and out of the classroom but make time in their days to actively participate in family functions.

Our mealtime conversations are lively, and the laughs we share are plentiful and hearty.

I’m lucky they are in my life on a daily basis and blessed to raise them with a devoted wife, who takes care of our family with enthusiasm and determination impossible to match.

It was at my family’s urging that we participated in a Christmas tree “giving back” effort last year that had us take a name from a tree set up at a local, participating business. We took two, and each included the name of a senior member of our community without family but legitimate Christmas wishes.

As a family, we shopped for these strangers and delivered the goods back to the respective business. The business took care of delivery, as the whole process is done anonymously.

Yet, my daughter would not participate if she couldn’t add a personal touch, so a homemade and colored Christmas card was included with our drop-off.

I would have never thought to participate if not for the urging of my family, and now, we’re planning to do it again.

I’m thankful for my loved ones, who routinely show me what’s truly special by demonstrating it right in front of my face.

That has made our time in Port Arthur and Mid-County so enjoyable. There is so much to be thankful for, but simply enjoying a great family tops it all.

It’s with an understanding of these many blessings that I’m glad to be part of something as special as our newspaper’s annual Holly Days fundraiser.

The group effort involving the Rotary Club of Port Arthur and Retail Merchants Association has taken place for 30 years plus, providing more than $320,000 to community organizations and nonprofits dedicated to making Port Arthur and Mid-County a better place.

Beginning Dec. 2 each donor will be listed on the front page of the Port Arthur News and celebrated as our community fills the stockings for those in need.

We raised $13,900 last year and there is no reason to think we can’t do even better this holiday season.

All contributions should be mailed to Holly Day Fund, c/o Retail Merchants Association, 3830 FM 365, Port Arthur, Texas 77642.

Stephen Hemelt is president of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at 409-721-2445 or stephen.hemelt@panews.com.