In less than three weeks, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving, focused on gratitude for the many blessings in our lives, or to put it in less religious terms, how good we got it. For the vast majority of us, we do indeed have a pretty good life and Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to reflect on that and do something for those who don’t enjoy the good life of shelter, food, family, transportation, friends, employment and the many minor luxuries that we often take for granted, like a cell phone, cable, power, air conditioning and easy access to food and water.

Our community offers many opportunities to share our time, talent and treasure with those in need. We have a number of churches and active service organizations that would welcome your participation. If you are new here or need suggestions on where to start, check in with your church or the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce as many of our local service clubs are members.

The upcoming holiday and some family issues have led me to reflect lately on “stuff.” That’s the kindest word I can come up with in a family newspaper for the treasures, trash, receipts, collectibles, clothes, broken appliances, toys and all those things that fall into the category of “might be useful someday,” like three A & W mugs or nine artificial Christmas trees.

For months, my siblings and I have been clearing out our parents’ house, the one they built in 1953 and spent the next 66 years filling with four children, a full life and an inconceivable volume of stuff — filling closets, attic, barn, garage and basement. Not on the hoarder spectrum, but survivors of the Great Depression and World War II, they never threw anything away that might be repaired or that they might need someday.

It’s been an enlightening and exhausting experience. We’ve kept some things and donated, trashed and sold stuff, with the emphasis on trash – four 20-yard dumpsters worth so far. Turns out that decades of storage renders most things useless.

In countless cases, we held a toy or household item and lamented that it had spent decades in a basement instead of in the hands of someone who truly could have used and enjoyed it. Our parents were generous people, supporting many causes close to their hearts. They just couldn’t bring themselves to give away stuff. So, their children ended up throwing most of it away, which is a pity.

This November, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, we urge you to think about all the unused stuff you have. What do you have sitting around unused that someone else needs right now? Surely, you’ve seen the articles about how your kids don’t want your stuff. If you have any doubts, ask them what they might want someday.

We can attest that they really don’t want to spend months sorting through your stuff someday, and agonizing over what you would have wanted done with it.

This Thanksgiving, do something for your community and your children, donate the things you no longer need or use.


Missy Layfield