Over the past 20 years, my brother and I would normally give out several hundred turkeys for Thanksgiving. Over the past six years, our two children became involved in the family tradition and helped with distributing the turkeys to families and churches in Elizabeth and Newark. I wanted to share this story as we approach Thanksgiving this week. 

A week ago I saw that COVID was spiking in Elizabeth, Newark and Jersey City, the areas we distributed the turkeys. We were concerned and I felt that it was just too unsafe this year. 

Last week, my son Ethan, and my niece Sophia, who both attend Franklin School, came to me and asked: “When are we giving out the turkeys to the people who need them?”  I told them that this year was different, the economy had negatively impacted our business, just like everyone else, and more importantly, that I couldn't take them to hand out turkeys in areas where the coronavirus has spiked to 30 percent. It was just too unsafe.

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Later that day, both Ethan and Sophia came back to me, they told they had a meeting and wanted to make me a proposal. Ethan said, “Daddy I know things are tough this year, but on the TV things are tougher for the people we help every year.” Then Sophia told that they both agreed they would stay home this year, so they wouldn't get sick. They know that their dads have money saved for their college fund. They both decided that they want us to use their money for the turkeys this year and when they get older they can work to replace the money.

I looked at these two kids and I thought my Irish Catholic immigrant mom in Heaven would be so proud. I remember when I was a little boy, about the same age as my son, and we came to America, it was our first Thanksgiving in America and my mom told me about this American tradition where everyone spent the day thanking God for their blessings. My mom loved Thanksgiving and this tradition became part of us.

I took the children up on their generous offer and my brother and I spent this past Saturday delivering hundreds of turkeys to people in neighborhoods much different from our Westfield. I took pictures and videos on the way and sent them to the kids. I’m very proud of them. My mom would be very proud that we learned what she taught us and, like her, we love the true meaning of this American tradition.

They reminded me that even when things are tough we should be thankful for what we have. 

Happy Thanksgiving from The Wards.