ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- Mass shootings, hurricanes, ardours — for countless parties across the nation, 2018 was a year of loss unlike any other. As the quintessentially American anniversary of Thanksgiving approachings, some will abandon traditions or chose not to recognize the celebration at all. Others will celebrate new friendships forged in the wake of tragedy.
Here’s how some of the survivors will expend Thanksgiving 😛 TAGEND
PARKLAND, FLORIDA: “A HARD WEEK”
Fred Guttenberg is now starting his Thanksgiving morning at a cemetery.
His 14 -year-old daughter, Jaime, is a component of 17 parties were killed during the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“This Thanksgiving is about loss, ” said Guttenberg who will visit Jaime’s tomb with his wife, his son and their two hounds. “It’s my first Thanksgiving without my daughter, and we’re not going to leave her out of it.”
After that, the family has no plans to celebrate or munch a goose dinner. None of their past knowledge seems appropriate. Jaime adoration the holidays, her papa said. She looked forward to embellishing the house and facilitating her mama with the cooking.
“This is going to be a hard week, ” Guttenberg said in a phone interview. He’s been a vocal advocate for stricter gun laws and started Orange Ribbons For Jaime, an organization that conjures money for artillery reform and for reasons that were important to his daughter, including animal welfare and dance scholarships.
The grieving father did national headlines when he was one of the first parents to be talking after the opened fire at a candlelight vigil. During his gut-wrenching recap of his last moments with Jaime, he obsessed whether he had remembered to say “I love you” as she hastened out the door for school.
“I sent her to academy yesterday. She was supposed to be safe. My job is to protect my children, ” he told the crowd.
Now, nine a few months later, Guttenberg says his family is facing a season of firstlies without Jaime, whom he described as the force in the apartment. He had a request for pedigrees who have not lost any loved ones to gun violence.
“Remember those who maybe aren’t there this festivity and is a component of the vary that needs to happen in this country so it doesn’t happen to them next.”
PITTSBURGH: “WE MUST NOT FORGET”
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers had just begun Shabbat service at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh when the shooting began. Now, less than three weeks after the deadliest attack on Jews in the United Country, he plans to celebrate Thanksgiving and encouraged others to do so too.
“People are looking forward to Thanksgiving because there is a lot to be thankful for, ” he said.
The day of the attack, Oct. 27, “will remain a constant gale, ” Myers said of the shooting that resulted in killing 11 parties. But in his weekly blog post to his congregants, he wrote: “For me, exactly being able to sit in the same room with my family is immensely rewarding, something I was not sure-fire I would ever have the opportunity to do again. That is why something so simple is so powerful and meaningful for me.”
However, that is not enough, Myers said. He urged people to be aware of the less fortunate, those in the community who need food and refuge. And he proposed “one simple, hitherto meaningful gesture” that would make an impact. He queried people to count the number of friends and relatives amassed around their counters at Thanksgiving and gift that sum to philanthropies that feed the ravenou. People could also devote more, or less.
“It is called tzedakah for an excellent reason: The root word, tzedek, intends ‘righteousness.’ It is the right thing to do, and you know that. The needs of others did not disappear on Oct. 27. They remained, and we must not forget them.”
CALIFORNIA: FACEBOOK ANGEL
Athenia Dunham and daughter Natalie will expend Thanksgiving at the home of a woman they met little than two weeks ago, surrounded by new friends. Athenia call them “angels.”
The Dunhams barely escaped their home in Paradise, California, on Nov. 8 as a deadly wildfire cros through. They were awoken by their pitbull, Luna, and flares were already burning the home next door. They became it out and to a hotel in nearby Redding, paying for the area with coin from a homeowner’s insurance payout.
On a ordinary Thanksgiving, Athenia said, she “couldve been” cooking for a few friends and preparing to “pig out and veg.” But this year the holidays are the last thing on her mind.
“To be honest, I genuinely don’t even know what day it is — it feels like this just happened yesterday, ” she said Tuesday.
But an legion of super voluntaries who connected via Facebook have come together to help give the two women as normal a Thanksgiving as possible.
Beyond providing a snack, the voluntaries have afforded the mother and daughter with clothing, offering placards and a laptop computer so Natalie can keep up with her education. One volunteer even did their laundry.
“They’re our angels — and angels have been with us because we left our driveway, ” Athenia said.
MEXICO BEACH, FLORIDA: THANKFUL TO BE ALIVE
The Rev. Eddie LaFountain of the First Baptist Church in Mexico Beach, Florida, plans to welcome 300 parties to the parking lot of his storm-damaged church for Thanksgiving dinner.
He’s comprised adore services in the mas since Hurricane Michael destroyed most of the community on Oct. 10. Since that Category 4 commotion, the church has become one of the town’s centres for supplies, demands and love.
Thanksgiving Day is no different, LaFountain said.
“We just felt like we wanted to open it up to everybody that’s now. Because some don’t have ovens, some are here volunteering. Anybody’s invited, ” he said. “Just to be appreciative that God’s given us life.”
LaFountain’s other job as a landscaper dried up since the hurricane, as did his wife’s job cleansing condos. But he feels sanctified that his apartment was unscathed, his children are safe and that he has firsthand evidence of the good in parties every day.
Just a few days ago, voluntaries applied a brand-new roof on the church. Inside, the donations of shoes, groceries, investing and other items are free for the taking.
“We can scarcely walk through the church sometimes, ” he said.
Volunteers from Wild Olive, a Panama City restaurant, are cooking the Thanksgiving meal for the hundreds expected to stop by.
“We’re going to pray with them and enjoy on them, ” LaFountain said. “If you ever want to experience God, he’s here.”
Associated Press writers Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Ramesh Santanam in Pittsburgh; and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, California, contributed to this report.
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