LIVINGSTON, NJ — Members of Livingston’s business and volunteer communities joined together in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday for the annual Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce (LACC) Community Thanksgiving Luncheon, which is traditionally held in honor of Livingston’s service organizations.

Sponsored by Regal Bank and Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC), the buffet lunch was held at Cedar Hill Country Club. Members of local organizations such as Livingston Kiwanis, Livingston Sunrise Rotary, Health Community Healthy Youth of Livingston, the West Essex YMCA, SBMC, Livingston’s Community Policing Unit, the Livingston Symphony Orchestra, the volunteer first aid squad and more took turns sharing what each of these entities brings to the community.

During an invocation from Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz of Temple B’nai Abraham, guests were reminded that Thanksgiving is a time to “pause and reflect” on the things they are grateful for.

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“This American holiday is a time for family and friends to join together to give thanks for the gift of our lives, our country, our health, our homes and our bounty,” said Dantowitz, who in her own reflection celebrated the power of community and the need to reach out to those near and far. “Last week’s November snowstorm was challenging, but we are fortunate to have seen amazing acts of kindness from friends and strangers—and we’re also mindful of those in extreme distress around our country and world, and particularly those in California and Pittsburgh, Penn.”

Among the local dignitaries in the room were Mayor Ed Meinhardt along with council members Michael Silverman and Rudy Fernandez; Township Manager Barry Lewis, Jr. and Deputy Township Manager Russ Jones; Chief of Police Gary Marshuetz along with Police Captains John Drumm and Thomas Smith as well as other officers; members of the two sponsoring businesses; and more.

Monte Ehrenkranz, vice president of Regal Bank and past president of the LACC, said that in addition to promoting local businesses doing business with each other, the LACC also sees the importance of giving back to the community.

“There are a lot of great businesses in town and a lot of great business people in town, and we are all supportive of each other—that’s the only way we can thrive,” said Ehrenkranz. “But the reason we have this luncheon today is to thank our volunteers in this town. Livingston is one of the communities that has the best volunteerism that I’ve ever seen.”

Echoing these sentiments was Meinhardt, who said, “Every person in this room has blessings to count.” He added that although those in the Livingston community are more fortunate than most, “to give thanks is not a natural act.”

“This day ensures that we give thanks, both to acknowledge those who impact and enhance our lives, and to remind us that humility is a value—and no one does it alone,” said Meinhardt. “I am grateful to live in a community where our first responders commit themselves to our safety and well-being with all their strength;

“I’m grateful to live in a community where abounding skilled and passionate teachers guide and lead our children to be responsible and have successful lives;

“As mayor, I am especially aware of the gratitude we owe to many—though we may not know all their names, or even their positions—who labor for our town, creating the communal warmth that we all cherish;

“I am grateful to live in a community where we all can share in a lunch like this, regardless of our religion, ethnic background, color of our skin, or who we are married to;

“I am grateful to all the volunteers who do so much for our town; and I am grateful to live in a community whose residents prove time and time again that they care and look out for one another.”

Meinhardt urged all residents to give thanks over the holidays because “here in Livingston, we have much to be thankful for,” and wished the community a “peaceful, meaningful and happy Thanksgiving.”