The country and this state are still struggling to climb out of a deep financial pit, but there are signs that the worst of the recession is behind us.
Indicators that underlie tourism, the industry that supports much of Hawaii’s economy, have been trending upward, which is good news for those worried about tax income to support government services, job security and the likelihood of future employment. Judging by the lines at supermarkets in the past few days, and the anecdotal reports of cashiers ringing up the sales, people are beginning to spend a bit more freely than at this time last year.
For those of us who live in that somewhat more relaxed world, an attitude of thankfulness comes easily. The food at the traditional family feast will be plentiful and the Christmas shopping list now represents a chore but not an impossibility.
But there are still many for whom the start of the holiday season serves as another sad reminder of their unfulfilled needs rather than as a celebration. The rest of us still have a mission to perform in sharing what we have with those still waiting for better days.
THE GOOD NEIGHBOR FUND
» Clothing, household items and gifts can be dropped off at the Community Clearinghouse, 2100 Nimitz Highway, next to Puuhale Road.
Compared to many regions across the mainland, Hawaii’s 6.4 percent jobless rate seems benign. But the picture here is similar in one way: That needle seems stubbornly stuck at its current mark. The positive momentum in tourism, like the fledgling recovery nationwide, takes time to spread through the broader economy.
And for those without a job, the prolonged wait is painful. The sight of partisan bickering stalling the extension of unemployment benefits to those out of work for six months surely adds to the fear of losing even that safety net while job opportunities remain few and far between.
This is undoubtedly why the Hawaii Foodbank this week was reporting low inventories of canned foods and other donated items. As soon as donations come in, they’ve gone out the door to families that need sustenance at the end of the month when unemployment funds or food stamps run out.
The holiday season begins in earnest today, and dire circumstances should not be allowed to persist. Hawaii families are offering thanks for what they have, but beyond this day’s festivities they can find ways to extend that good fortune to the larger community. Bringing nonperishables to the food bank, or to one of numerous other charities, would be a meaningful expression of that gratitude.
One option: The Star-Advertiser, in partnership with Helping Hands Hawaii, has launched the annual Good Neighbor Fund, aimed at giving an assist to those in need during the holiday season (see box).
Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy what we have with loved ones — but "giving" is also part of the word, the part that shouldn’t be forgotten, especially during these difficult times.