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Thanksgiving Giving

November 28, 2002

Thanksgiving is an annual act of American appreciation that tends toward the personal. We think thankfully of our health, our family, our blessings, perhaps even our presence in a land so blessed. Do that today. But right afterward, ponder for one moment sharing your bounty with others less fortunate, perhaps those at Hollygrove, a home for abused and neglected children.

Think about not having a family gathering like yours today. Think about the familiar foods and aromas of your home, the familiar faces, the familiar happiness and excitement, the familiar compliments and the familiar fullness after such a meal. You can even think about your uncle's familiar jokes, which he tells every year as if they were new.

And then think about the 68 kids who have no loving family to witness, lean on, listen to, laugh with and be hugged by in front of others as if they were somehow special. And consider sharing, not your jokes or memories but your money, through The Times Holiday Campaign. This is the annual effort by the Times Family Fund, part of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, which will match your donation 50 cents on the dollar. Last year, the fund (which absorbs all administrative costs) raised $653,000 and granted it to 56 charities serving all kinds of youth needs across five Southern California counties.

One recipient was Hollygrove, originally called the Los Angeles Orphans Home Society, in the Hollywood area. There, boys and girls ages 6 to 13 live awhile after unsuccessful experiences in foster homes. They receive not just warm shelter and good food but schooling and many hours of therapy, including music, dance, art, recreation and group talks.

Many of the children have been abused and appear to have failed at being a child in several homes. Few know anything about receiving compliments -- on their clothes, their stories, their hair or behavior. Self-esteem, like the feeling that comes from getting a hug for no reason whatsoever, hasn't much meaning in their lives yet. Think about hugs you got. Most of the Hollygrove children are angry in defensive ways. It can take two years to work through the full therapy. From a child's perspective, it's a challenge to take the situation any way but personally.

You can't change it all, of course. But you can help with a tax-deductible donation. Checks or money orders can be sent to the Los Angeles Times Holiday Campaign, File 56986, Los Angeles, CA 90074-6986. Credit card donations can be made at www .latimes.com/holidaycampaign; gifts of more than $25 will be acknowledged in The Times unless donors request otherwise.

Give yourself an outgoing blessing to think about today while awaiting the incoming pie. And on this Thanksgiving Day, thanks.

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