Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving :: Giving Thanks in Canada

Canadians have much to be thankful for, though judging by letters to the editor and radio talk shows, you might be forgiven for thinking we are a nation of complainers and whiners. Most likely, we do complain a lot precisely because we have such a wonderful life. Canadians have the luxury and security of knowing how life should be, and get annoyed, cranky and indignant when issues and events diverge from the good life.

Canadians are great volunteers, and champions of the underdog. We say 'Sorry!' even for things that are in no way our fault, and would cure all diseases, end world poverty, resolve conflict, and feed everyone tomorrow if we could. No, we'd do it today!

Of course, Canadians are not unique in this desire bordering on compulsion to help others. I think a spirit of helping and sharing is a human trait, one that crosses all borders and cultures. I am disappointed when I see evidence that it's not, and am cheered when I see proof that it is.

Proof like the sharing, caring people from around the world, who, thanks to the power of the internet, have come together to help one Canadian woman, Sharon Gaskell, with her work in the Cap-Haitien, Haiti. After her first visit years ago, she realized she could not turn her back on the children -- mostly orphans -- who needed help. And so she keeps going back to help them.

After using all her own money, including her retirement fund and the proceeds from the sale of her home, her friends persuaded her to start a charity. Starthrower Foundation was launched in Summer 2004, and thanks to the web site, other caring people from around the world know of Sharon, and what needs to be done to help the youth of Haiti.

Starthrower supporters run marathons in the UK and the US, collect goods and money in the United States, hold fundraisers and collect donations in Canada, and donate in kind and in cash from Australia. It's a great world!

But the need is great, and the need for funds is ongoing, and each donor can only do so much. After all, as any parent knows, it takes money to feed, clothe, house and care for growing kids on an ongoing basis, whether their own family, or Sharon's kids in Haiti.

On this, our Canadian Thanksgiving, I for one am thankful for my good life here, and for the good and kind people around the world who have come together to help the youth of Haiti. If you would like to join them and help share the load, please make a donation at StarthrowerFoundation.org. Even if you can't make a donation, have a look around (especially the Updates from Haiti), pass on the link to your friends, and give thanks for what you have. Without knowing who you are, I know you at least have access to a computer, have at least one hand and a few fingers, and have time to surf the 'net. Not bad at all!

For the record, no, we didn't have turkey: We had meat loaf, mashed potatoes and gravy.

And a very Happy Columbus Day to all you Americans! (Did you know Columbus 'discovered' Haiti?)

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