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Congratulations to Gage County 4-H members Preston Acton, Holmesville, Emily Rempel, Halie Parde, Beatrice, and Melina Kostal, Odell, for winning the record-book competition to represent Nebraska at the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta Nov. 23-27.

They will join over 800 delegates from across the United States and its territories. This event not only recognizes excellence but provides an educational opportunity, workshops, entertainment, sightseeing and a service-learning project. Thank you to these youth and their parents for outstanding project work, leadership and community service. You're a big part of "making the best better!"

4-H Council serves Gage County

Among my many blessings is networking with youth and adult volunteers who serve on the 4-H Council: Andrea Humphreys, Ashtyn Humphreys, Wymore; Christina Lyons, Lisa Oltmans, Claira Janssen, Emily Rempel, Jana Mullins, Beatrice; Kaitlyn Otto, Firth; Karen Stohs, Odell; Cara White, DeWitt; Heidi Price, Pickrell; Lauren Trauernicht, Wymore; Karla Holland, Filley. Completing her council membership is Savannah Gerlach, DeWitt; thank you for your service.

Thanks and giving

Thanksgiving — a celebration of goodness, appreciation for life's blessings and gratitude. The season provides us the opportunity for thanks and giving. It's a day to be thankful for the past, grateful for today — to be the person who gives to others because of the abundance of your life. Michael Josephson said, "Feelings of gratitude don't come easy in a world where we take so much for granted and think we deserve everything we have."

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 and lasted for three days. It was declared a national holiday in 1863.

"The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts," wrote H.U. Westermayer. "No Americans have been more impoverished than those who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."

This week will find us celebrating with family and friends, traveling, enjoying days off work, consuming excessive amounts of food, shopping, spending time outdoors or cheering on our favorite teams.

Erma Bombeck once said, "Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Halftimes take 12 minutes. This is not a coincidence."

Many people volunteer during the holidays. It's a great time to give back. Helping others can actually improve our mental and physical health.

A Vanderbilt University study found that those who participated in some type of volunteer work were happier, less likely to be depressed and had better physical health.

Choose your favorite charity. Offer to help a neighbor. Volunteer at a food pantry, senior center, your local school or community agency. Think of giving back as a privilege.

Every day is a gift. Remind yourself how good you have it by finding ways to help others in need. Know your gifts and share them. If you continually give, you will continually have. It costs zero dollars to be grateful for what we have.

To you at Thanksgiving

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump, may your potatoes and gravy never have a lump. May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize. And may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!

Gifts for 4-H friends & family

Show your 4-H pride with two new 4-H T-shirt designs: dark grey short sleeve ($10) and the other shirt with three-quarter length sleeves ($15). It's the perfect gift for the holidays. And pick up a silver insulated water bottle that boasts Gage County 4-H for only $10. Stop by the Extension Office, which is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Simple inspirations: "Of all the attitude we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life changing." — Zig Ziglar

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