Column: Giving thanks to Granite Staters working to improve our communities

(File photo)Sen. Maggie Hassan

The pandemic has turned things upside down, forcing us to make countless adjustments, big and small, in every aspect of our lives.

For many of us, it means that to keep our family and community safe, we had to forego many of our Thanksgiving traditions this year.

But while you and your family are doing everything that you can to stay safe, I hope you are also finding new ways to enjoy this special time of year. 

As my family gathered around a much smaller table this year, I was, like all of you, giving thanks for the heroes serving on the front lines of this pandemic. I was also reflecting on, and giving thanks for, the many people who have found unique ways to lend their compassion and talent to their friends, neighbors and communities.

Each month I honor a Granite Stater of the Month — an outstanding New Hampshire citizen who goes out of their way to help their fellow citizens.

And this year, there has been no shortage of impressive individuals who have done all that they can to give back and support their communities.

Take, for example, Salem High School’s cheerleading team. In April, I recognized them for coming together, while social distancing, to help raise the spirits of residents at a local nursing home.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salem’s cheerleading team was unable to compete at its New England conference meet — a moment that the athletes had worked hard for all season.

In an effort to cheer up her teammates, as well as bring joy to residents at the nursing home, sophomore Gabrielle Driggers suggested throwing a parade for the residents, who included Gabrielle’s grandmother. A few days later, 25 to 30 cheerleaders showed up to participate in the parade, which was carefully planned to ensure that all athletes were at least six feet away from one another and the residents.

I am grateful for the members of the Salem cheerleading team for recognizing the importance of helping some of the most vulnerable Granite Staters feel supported and seen during this public health emergency.

This is a difficult time for all Americans. Straightforward acts of kindness truly help make a difference and reflect the very best of our state.

On Thanksgiving, and every day, I am grateful for those Granite Staters who are doing all that they can to help each other and their communities as we work to navigate an unprecedented crisis. Their generosity, understanding and commitment serves as a particularly important example of what it means to love your neighbor, state and country. Their actions strengthen all of us.

Maggie Hassan represents New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.


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