This week has been busy and my mind is a whirlwind, as I look back at the past week and ahead at the week to come.

The past week has been filled with kittens, of course, benefit dinners and special sections and more.

The kittens are doing extremely well. Momma cat has decided she misses them. After two days of her coming to the door and inside to feed them twice a day, I’ve given their care back to her.

Of course she has a nice little home now to raise them in.

As my Mom used to say, “You don’t want to throw that out, you may need it.” She didn’t hoard stuff but she was particular about what was thrown away rather than stored for use later or given to someone else who could use it.

In this case her words rang true.

I had a vinyl cathouse. It looks like a squared-shaped tepee but not as pointed at the top. I’ve had this house since I had “Boots,” the last real pet cat we had. Boots lived for 19 years. I bought the cathouse when he was about 10 or 11 years old. He never really took to it and so it sat there and eventually made its way to the garage.

When the I was able to get Momma cat’s first two kittens onto the porch a few months ago, I told Dad I thought maybe they’d like to sleep in the cat house in case the porch got cold at night. So he brought it in from the garage and we set it on the porch. It had a plaid wool throw in it as well as some ripped up newspaper, so I knew it would be a warm haven for them.

But no, that wasn’t what they thought. They think lying up on the wicker loveseat cushion is much better than the cathouse. So once again it sat unused.

Then when the three little kittens were brought inside a week ago, I brought the house downstairs to the family room thinking they may like to go in and lay down to sleep there. Again, I obviously didn’t understand the needs of cats. While they ran past the opening to the cathouse as they played, none of the three ventured in.

So when I decided to put them back with their mother, I couldn’t just put them out in the cold. I had to know I at least had tried to give them somewhere warm to sleep. So I took the towel they kittens had been sleeping on, folded it up and placed it on top of the wool blanket. Then with Momma cat and the kittens watching I set it out on the lower deck. Being vinyl it is weather proof and allows them to get in out of the cold and wind.

Once the kittens had finished eating their food, one went over to the house and looked in. Smelling the towel they’d been on already must have done the trick. Because the first little kitten went inside and soon the other two followed. Eventually Momma cat went in as well. That first night, we checked and all were snuggled up safe in their little house.

It has been several days now and despite wind and rain, they come out to eat and then go back into their very own shelter.

Mom was right. It’s a good thing I didn’t throw that house out or give it away. It has come in very handy this week.

With Momma cat and her three kittens safe, Dad and I took a much-needed break by going to the annual chicken and biscuit dinner at Christ Lutheran Church in DuBois. The dinner is used to raise money for the DuBois Ministerial Food Pantry, located under Mansell Stadium.

With the state budget holdup this year, the food pantry is still waiting to hear what state funding it may receive for purchasing food. But the pantry must continue to feed the hundreds of families that depend on it whether the state money arrives or not. So attending a benefit dinner is an easy way to help out.

For those who may have missed it, the dinner, which is eat in or take out, costs just $5. And I believe the youngest children may even eat for free. The meal is diced up chicken and gravy served over an open biscuit with mashed potatoes, a vegetable (this year there was a choice between corn or mixed veggies) and a dessert. Those eating in also received a beverage and there were baskets of bread on the tables.

As you can imagine the people poured in. What was wonderful, beyond the food and those volunteering to cook and serve it, was the myriad of people who attended. I saw classmates from high school, people who I’ve interviewed for stories in the city, and many more. These people came not just for a good meal (which it really was) but also to help out a charity in town that we’d be lost without. I can’t imagine what those 300 plus families would do if we didn’t have the food pantry. I know there are a couple other places in town that provide boxes of food for those in need, but the DuBois Food Pantry is set up almost like a grocery store. The people mark a check on a printed list next to the items they need and depending on the size of their family, their order is filled. While one or two people may get one can of soup, a family of four or six may get two or three cans.

The pantry volunteers work with area merchants and county and state agencies to provide the most they can for anyone in need of their service. They have even found a program that will bring a free shipment of fresh produce to the pantry one or twice a month so that people can have fresh fruit and vegetables.

Thinking of the pantry and its volunteers always makes me realize how thankful we are to live in this area. The residents here are always ready to help those in need. They rally around causes that will help to feed and clothe people or that will mean a child has a happy Christmas with gifts under the tree. I feel truly blessed to have not only grown up here but to still live here as an adult.

Thanksgiving is just days away now and while many are thinking past it to Black Friday and the bargains they may find, I hope each of us has a chance to stop and reflect on our many blessings as well as for what we are thankful. For me those blessings include family and friends and I’m thankful for the same. Dad will have his brother and sister-in-law and nephew here this year and the day will include a visit by one of my brothers and sisters-in-law and my nephew, his wife and young daughter. It will provide a houseful of people for a few hours that will harken back to when everyone came to the house for Mom to cook the Thanksgiving meal. Old memories will arise and new ones will be made as we eat slices of pumpkin and apple pie. Those gathering will represent the past, the present and the future – a family history that was, is and will continue. That is truly a blessing I appreciate more as I get older.

And so I wish everyone a very happy – and blessed – Thanksgiving.

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