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Groups Mark Thanksgiving With Good Deeds

Juggling Jeff performs at the Lewis & Clark library branch
St. Louis County Public Library | Dave Moore

Several community organizations are using the Thanksgiving holiday to give back -- especially in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson.

That includes the St. Louis County Public Library system, which has been offering special events this week for north county students whose schools have been closed because of the unrest in Ferguson.

Officials decided to restart the program after first offering it in August.

“At that time our Florissant Valley branch opened up and had day-long activities for kids who were out of school after the initial unrest,” said St. Louis Public Library Communications Manager Jennifer McBride.

“And we had arts and crafts, we had Legos, we had a free lunch from Operation Food Search. And that was so successful, that we decided to expand it,” she said.

The initiative has been offered this week at the Florissant Valley, Lewis & Clark and Natural Bridge branches.

Counseling has also been available at those locations for area residents who are having trouble coping with the recent violence.

McBride said the effort is another sign of the importance libraries can have in a community, especially around the holidays.

Another organization trying to step up for the holidays is the St. Louis County NAACP.

It is trying to help Ferguson residents over the Thanksgiving holiday by giving away 200 turkeys to people who are out of work, partly as a result of the violence after this week’s decision by the grand jury in the Officer Darren Wilson case.

Credit NAACP

“This is about people that are going to not have jobs in one of the most critical shopping seasons of the year,” said national board member and Ferguson resident John Gaskin.

“You know, for many of those businesses that got burned [down] this would be a big weekend and weeks ahead for them. Barbershops, hairdressers, salons, boutiques; where people oftentimes make their top dollars during the holiday season.”

The group is not in a position to help rebuild businesses that were burned to the ground. But, Gaskin said, it wanted to perform a good deed for the holiday.

The availability of turkeys have been made possible by the generosity of the Schnucks family, said Gaskin.

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.