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The classic story of the first Thanksgiving is one of generosity, community, and celebration of life. This story, taught to all Americans at a young age, is woven through with realistic themes of charity and unity albeit with an unreliable point of view. Certainly we see echoes of this narrative today; when the Wampanoags saved the Pilgrims and celebrated the fall harvest in 1621, they could not have imagined the challenges that Native people would be living with in 2019.
Yet we shouldn’t rely on a past folktale of goodwill and harmony to enjoy Thanksgiving while we have the opportunity to make that our reality every day. Four centuries later, Running Strong for American Indian Youth is celebrating the values that bring us all together in the best way possible – by sharing them with others. All through support from our generous donors in this original spirit of community, Running Strong was able to provide 3,700 turkeys – over 40,000 lbs.! – to the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations of South Dakota this year alone. We have worked on this beloved program every year in an effort to show our gratitude for this tradition to focus on what we hold in common: a lovely holiday meal, shared with everyone we hold dear.
Throughout 2019, Running Strong’s supporters have made possible the distribution of countless hot meals, thousands of dry family food boxes, and almost 6,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies and sack lunches to dozens of Native American communities across the country. In our 30th year of business, Running Strong continues to show our program partners that no matter the occasion, we’re in it together.
When people across the country rejoice in togetherness – be it through food, friends, or virtues — we accomplish so much more than we can alone. Thanksgiving should be used to examine what we all have in the common good, and show that maybe we’re closer than we are too far. It is more than a meal; Thanksgiving is a dedicated time to pause and reflect on the circumstances of where we are today and why.