This year for Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about the many people I know who give sacrificially to serve others and often go unnoticed or unrecognized. I think this time of year is a great opportunity to highlight them and let them know their service is appreciated.

I recently enjoyed attending the 31st Environmental Excellence Celebration awards ceremony for Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, where several constituents were recognized and honored for their volunteer services in their communities.

Richard Thackray from Cushing was recognized under the category of Community Volunteer Individual for his work with Cushing Pride. Local citizens of all ages come together as part of the Cushing Pride initiative to tackle many types of beautification projects around town, and Richard was recruited for the task of coordinating these activities. He is passionate about keeping his home community of Cushing clean.

The first ever Cushing Pride clean-up event had 96 participants who removed 134 bags of trash from local streets. Richard also created “May on Broadway” to care for 16 gardens along downtown Cushing streets and in local parks every spring. He developed a 35 team adopt-a-block program that covers 90% of Cushing’s main roads. Thank you to Richard for stepping up to keep Cushing beautiful!

Also recognized at the Environmental Excellence Celebration were sisters Charene Webb and Courtney Lord from Ripley who spearheaded “Ripley Strong.” They were honored under the category of “Great American Cleanup ODOT Trash Off Rookie Award.” Their first trash-off had 140 volunteers who collected 125 bags of trash. They cleared 3 miles of roadway, working a total of 560 volunteer hours! Nice job and thanks to all the volunteers!

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, OSU Fellowship of Christian Athletes had our annual food box distributions, which is funded by OSU students. Over 75 young people participated to set up and deliver the food boxes to vehicles. Rachel Condley, director of Our Daily Bread in Stillwater, joined us to give needy families information about services the non-profit provides to our community.

We donated extra food remaining from the distribution to Our Daily Bread. After unloading the boxes, the students toured the center. Every year, they have an estimated 5,000 volunteers put in a total of over 150,000 volunteer hours. We give thanks to all of you who serve!

The dictionary gives this definition under the word thanksgiving: 1) the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God; 2) a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness; or 3) a day set apart for giving thanks to God.

We can all acknowledge those we know who serve on non-profit boards, hold city volunteer leadership positions, or simply make it a part of their life to visit shut-ins or those in the hospital.

Let us begin a year of “thanksliving” to express gratitude to them personally and especially to God for their kindness and passion to improve lives.

As always, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve you, and I appreciate all of you who continue to contact me. You can reach me at 405-557-7304 or john.talley@okhouse.gov.

Thank you for the honor of representing House District 33!

Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.

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