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John and Carolee Wallin are shown with their grandchildren.

What our readers are thankful for

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

What our readers are thankful for

We asked our readers what they were thankful for during this Thanksgiving season and many responded. Mrs. West’s fifth-grade students at Forestview Middle School in Baxter also provided many reasons why they are thankful.

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We were only able to publish some of the many submissions in our newspaper but visit brainerdispatch.com to read all the submissions. Some have been edited for clarity and brevity.

I am thankful for my family and friends. My mom passed away in June 2010 and I have to say it is one of the hardest things in life that I have had to face so far. But my dad, brother Evan and my boyfriend Andy have been here for me. My dad and I leaned on each other a lot the first few months after she passed away. My brother was in Iraq on the end of his second tour when she passed and that was difficult.

When you lose someone that you are so close to it is very hard to pick up life and continue on. My dad and brother remind me everyday that we have each other and that is what matters. So, I am thankful for my dad, who has put up with the emotional roller coaster of the past year, and for my brother who bravely serves our country so that we have the freedoms that we take for granted from time to time.

Faith Rono

Pillager

I’m thankful for many things. I am thankful for dance, a great privilege that I have. I am thankful for my grandparents, who pay all the enormous dance bills and all the other expenses.

I also appreciate all of my friends, who support me, are nice to me most of the time and they always make me laugh. I want to thank all the animals we enjoy as a meal, I’m so sorry they had to die, but they were delicious. Thank you for all our teachers, who teach us important things we will need. These are just some of the things I’m thankful for, because my list could go on forever.

Kailee Coleman

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am grateful for my wife of 18 years. She homeschools our three kids, ages 12, 14 and 16. She runs the house taking care of all of us and loves doing it. She is a woman of perseverance and sacrifice, an example to all of us. Every day I am grateful for the four of them and thank God for blessing me with them.

Craig Wenstrand

I am so very thankful for a loving God and the freedoms that we enjoy living in this great nation of ours. For my family, friends and loved ones whom I have been blessed with. For this wonderful city of ours that I have been privileged to serve. These and so many other numerous things to be thankful for. Wishing you all a very blessed Thanksgiving.

James Wallin

Brainerd mayor

I am thankful for my family and everything God has given us. I appreciate the soldiers that risk their lives for our country. I also appreciate all the trees that give us oxygen. I also enjoy my life. I am thankful for the whole world. I also enjoy the news and the newspaper so we know what is going on in life. I appreciate all the people in the world.

Noah Blakeman

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for God’s provision. I also love my family and friends. I bet they love me too. I want to thank them all. My family is the most important. I’m also thankful for life. I love living. I’m also thankful for video games. I want to thank Nintendo and Sega for all their hard work.

Josh W.

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade student

I wanted to write something special for Thanksgiving this year and for a few brief moments the sarcastic part of my meandering mind spoke up and said, “What is it you want to write about Mike that happened this year? Do you want to write about the death of your wife, or your dog dying, or the day you fell in the woods and a stick went into your eye and you ended up in urgent care? Maybe you could write about your son losing his business and his home or your friends who are suffering with illness. Maybe you should just skip Thanksgiving this year and keep your big mouth shut.” Then I stopped and looked around me and realized that there are two sides to every story and it’s up to you to pick the one you want to tell and the sarcastic one, well, it really does no one any good at all.

When my wife found out that she was not going to survive her illness I remembered her looking up at me from her hospital bed and saying to me, “We had forty nine good years together.” Actually if you count the ones before we got married it was more like 51. At the time that was little comfort to me but now looking back I see what she was trying to tell me. So many people lose their spouses long before that. I read the paper and it happens everyday. We spent the best years of our life together in love, peace and harmony for half a century.

My dog lived to be fourteen and died at my feet. He could have been run over when he was five or died in some vet’s office on a stainless tabletop. He lived longer then most Labradors live and in good health for the most part. The stick that I fell on and went in my eye was blunt so all it did was bruise my eye. It could have been sharp and I would be wearing a patch today like old Blackbeard the pirate. My son is starting over in a different home with his family — and yes — I do have a wonderful son with a great family. That in itself is reason to rejoice.

Mike Holst

As another Thanksgiving is arriving I am thankful for my family and friends that are still here with us. Sometimes we don’t tell our loved ones enough just how important they are. This year I have so much to be thankful for my parents are in good health and are here for me everyday. I have six grandchildren and another on the way.

I have lost one of my aunts this year, but I am very thankful for the time we shared and will never forget her.

Judy Boyd

I am thankful this year for the presence of my beautiful daughter Nicole in my life. I met Nicole this year. She came to me through the Minnesota waiting program for kids that need to find forever families. Nicole is 11 years old and an absolute wonder. We are finalizing our adoption on Nov. 23. I feel very blessed and thankful to be her mother. We are a perfect team and feel like we have been together always.

Diana Roman

I am thankful for feeling better. My family and I talked about and wondered if I would get better. I had major surgery and it worked. Neither my family nor I felt it was time for me to go yet. It hasn’t been easy, struggles continue daily, but I am thankful for the time I am able to spend with my family.

Faye Stuard

Bethany Good Samaritan resident

I am Thankful for the miracle God gave me. I was diagnosed with brain cancer on April 30.

I am Thankful to the ambulance drivers and the helicopter pilots to get me to St. Cloud.

I am Thankful to the doctors and their staff and volunteers.

I am Thankful to my family and friends who made sure I got rides to my doctor’s appointments.

I am Thankful for all of the prayers that were said for me, and the visits from Pastor Ron and Marla.

I am Thankful for the meals that were made for me. (yum.)

I am Thankful for the help I had around my house. (Jodi, Troy and Tonya.)

I am Thankful for all of the letters and cards that I received.

I am Thankful for the cancer that did not show up on my last MRI.

I am Thankful for my life!

Jo Trebil

I am thankful for the life and family my Lord has giving me. He has richly blessed me with a wonderful wife, three wonderful kids, six grandchildren, and a loving family consisting of two brothers, a sister and my mom. He blesses me every day by providing a house I can live in and food that I can put on the table. I thank him day and night for these wonderful blessings. Thank You Jesus. This is what I am thankful for on this and every Thanksgiving. After all Thanksgiving is for giving thanks and spreading that thanks to everyone we meet.

Brian Bade

Brainerd

I am thankful for the gift of life! I was born back in the time of the Depression. How easy it would have been for my mother to have said, “We can’t afford to feed another mouth,” but thankfully, she didn’t. I’m thankful for all the wonderful friends I’ve had along the way that I’ve played, laughed, and cried, with often. Why was I blessed to have a husband that loves and cares for me, Parkinson’s and all? Also, to have four wonderful children, their spouses, 11 grandchildren, and two greats. I have a long time doctor, Dr. Michael Wiedell, who makes sure I’m on schedule with all I need to keep my body and mind functioning as best he can; my Parkinson’s doctor, Dr. Parashos, who listens and cares that I do as well as I can coping with Parkinson’s; my dentist, Dr. Mark Sherman, who makes sure my teeth are in good useable condition; my health insurance company, U-Care; and all the other medical people who have played a part in my health. I’m thankful too, for our faithful pastor, Rev. Jeff Drake, who loves God, his Word, and people. Even above all of these, I’m thankful for a God in Heaven who cares so much for me that He sent His Son, Jesus, to be my Lord and Savior and promises He will never leave me or forsake me and will one day take me to Heaven to live with Him for all eternity. I’m one thankful lady!

Olive Slye

Emily

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. A few days before my 94th birthday on Feb. 8 two doctors at the Brainerd Medical Center told me that I had cancer of the stomach, which was not easy to take. The two doctors operated on my stomach and took over half of my stomach out. They told me that they were sure that all the cancer was removed and so far they are 100 percent correct. With the good help of home care, my wife and four daughters, I am doing real well. This summer I have been going to all kinds of sporting events that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren participate in and now it is time for hockey and basketball. All the prayers my family said for me has helped me get through this challenging time. With God’s help, I hope to make it to my next birthday.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Harold Moll

As we approach Thanksgiving, all of us are blessed with so many things, we usually don’t stop to think about them.

I am personally thankful for the gift of life, good health, the greatest gift we can have, family, friends, living in a country that our service people have protected and continually serve to protect our freedom.

The gift of grandchildren, our legacy for tomorrow.

For all of this, I am truly blessed.

Wishing each and all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

John Wallin

Nisswa

Gratitude, in essence a form of optimism, is a way to experience a hint of joy even in the mundane. As a member of a Twelve Step recovery program, gratitude has become a way of life; learning to appreciate what I have, rather than dwelling on what I don’t have. I have been blessed with a cornucopia of good fortune. Most of that good fortune is related to loving relationships — through spiritual connectedness and fellowship with others. While others cared for me at times when I was not able to care about myself, I began to believe in a Higher Power. And as that understanding grew over time, I began to see that God had always been there, waiting patiently for me to acknowledge His presence and to turn my will and life over to His care. How foolish I felt when I realized the folly of my past beliefs, what good fortune and gratitude I experienced as I came face to face with grace through faith in Jesus.

Though our country’s earliest history includes a somewhat disputed legend of its first Thanksgiving celebration, it is with warm thoughts that I imagine Native Americans and Pilgrims sitting down to a meal together, a harvest festival of sorts, with warm relationships between men and women of different races and in God’s presence evoked through prayer. Today, we do not necessarily go out and shoot that turkey (although our family has been known to eat wild turkey for Thanksgiving on occasion). Food and fellowship go very well together, as do faith that our interactions with others are not random, but true blessings from God. This Thanksgiving I will sit down to a meal with my family, a racially mixed group, who will enjoy food, fellowship and a shared Christian faith.

As I anticipate that special time over the coming Thanksgiving holiday, I pray that I may always see the connection that God has made in my interactions with others, that these connections will by far outweigh any misunderstandings we may experience. I pray, no matter what my circumstances, I may discover love and hope in what I have both individually and as a member of a larger community, rather than dwelling on my misfortunes. I choose to be grateful because of all that it means to my recovery and that of others, while on its shirttails rides a peace that passes understanding. I try to embrace it — today, and every day.

Charmaine Donovan

I’m thankful for my parents, who’ve cared for me even before birth. I also appreciate my brother, even though he’s as annoying as can be, I do love him so. My family is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m proud to call them my mommy and daddy.

I’m also thankful for my crazy friends. I have learned that friends are the family we choose for ourselves.

I am glad we have books, words on paper. Even though they teach us so much. I’m thankful for school, because I love to learn. Without our smart teachers, it would just not be the same.

That’s what I’m thankful for.

Olivia Jackson

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am 89 years old, soon to be 90 in February. At the age of twenty, I served as a paratrooper in World War II. I spent 2-1/2 years overseas with the 82nd Airborne. In the fall of ‘45, I bought property on Lower Mission Lake where I still live today after 67 years. Over the years, I have survived two back operations, two heart attacks, and prostate cancer. Last year at this time my outlook was not real good. I could hardly do anything and I decided my gardening days were over.

On Jan. 4, 2011, I had open heart surgery where the doctors performed a triple bypass, a valve replacement, and installed a pacemaker. By May I felt so good that I decided to plant a garden after all. I have mowed the grass (I have a lot of grass to mow), cleaned my yard this fall (several times), and just finished hanging all the Christmas lights on the house and around the yard. We have quite a lot of them, too.

Every month I have felt better and better. I am both thankful and blessed.

Ralph Yeager

Plain and simple: I am thankful for my husband, Russ, and our kids, Inga and Gunnar.

Sam Wicklund

I thank God every morning especially since 1985, that was the year I had the bottom half of my right lung removed, also my bottom rib. I know I wrote about this some years back. The doctors in Phoenix said I was dead 5-6 minutes. This is what I saw: I was laying in a field, with explosions going off all around the edges, very low black clouds, suddenly I was bouncing against them and then spinning through a black hole, then walking up a mountain path in a snowstorm. Suddenly there was a man in a white robe and hood standing there. I knew later it was Jesus. I said, “Sir, can you direct me to the valley?” He replied, “My son, just follow this path around the top of the mountain and down the path you will see the valley.” I thanked him and my left arm brushed his as I went by him. I followed the path around the next bend and then heard singing and laughing. The next bend there it was, the beautiful sight gave me a feeling of peace and joy that I have never been able to bring back. I wanted to get down there so bad I was running as fast as I could then suddenly I was spinning through that black hole. I opened my eyes and was looking at a priest putting the sign of the cross on my forehead. I said, “What are you doing, Father?” He said, “I was giving you Last Rites.” “Doctor,” he yelled. Four nights later two nurses stood me up while making my bed, I fainted. They dropped me and broke my ribs loose where they were tied together and broke my shoulder in three places. Two-and-a-half months later, I was out, but finished working in the housing industry! I gave this full rendition at many funerals. Priests and ministers say this is a calling. I don’t know, but since 1985 I always want to help the poor, work against over taxation or candidates that have no idea about working for the people they represent.

Since 1985 I have lost a daughter, mother and father, two brothers, two sisters and both their husbands, two uncles, three cousins, two lifetime buddies, 16 relatives and friends. I thank God I have three daughters and one brother left. I state this because I want people to know that God just may have some plan for me. Who knows? I was shown that beautiful place where our souls go to wait for another body. I wanted to go in there but clergy tell me it wasn’t my time. I give thanks to God regardless of what others believe. I have so much to be thankful for and Thanksgiving is a day for an extra thank you. And thank you, readers.

Marv Begin

Fort Ripley

Go through life not thinking about everyday occurrences, but Thanksgiving time, start thinking about my John — Like I’ll go downstairs to empty the dryer and it’s been done or I’ll fall asleep watching TV too late to do dinner dishes. In the morning, he leaves early, all dishes are washed up and best of all, coffee’s been made and he’s walked down to the mailbox so the paper’s on the counter and when he’s home brings in that second cup of coffee. Having my car ready to travel, actually now, lot more but his actions do mean a lot and guess I’ll just have to do something special for him this Thanksgiving Day.

Pat Wlasiuk

Brainerd

I am grateful for this community to have such a great treatment program, Teen Challenge. I am grateful for the life-changing experience I have had here. I have been here for just about a year. And I am grateful for that. This program has saved my life. Thank you, Teen Challenge. I am so grateful.

Craig Larson

There are many things in life that I am thankful for. I am thankful that my dad lets me play the sports that I love. I am grateful for the food that my parents supply. I love the fact that my mom gave me a great education. I am thankful that my parents can earn enough money to own the house and pay the bills. I love everything in my life!

Renzen Caughey

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for many things and Thanksgiving reminds me of them. I’m thankful for my family. My family does a lot for me; I don’t know what I would do without them. I’m also grateful for sports. My favorite sport is hockey. I also am thankful for God. My religion is very important to me and God helps me make my decisions.

Noah Sundberg

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving always reminds me of all the things I have. I am thankful to have a family that loves me and loving dogs, too. I appreciate that I have a warm house to live in and food to eat. Thanksgiving reminds me that not all people are able to get an education so we should be thankful that we are able to go to school. I appreciate all the things I have.

Amy Ulanowski

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving makes me think of all the things I’m thankful for. One thing I’m thankful for is my spectacular family. Another thing is the food we get to feed us. I’m pretty much thankful for everything we have.

I’m really thankful for the house we have to keep us warm. Another thing I appreciate is the bed I get to sleep in. Some kids don’t have beds. So as you can see I’m thankful for a lot of things. The last thing that I’ll say I’m thankful for is that I stay very healthy.

Ben Renner

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for books because I love to read. Without books, the smartest people would not be smart and the greatest inventions would not be invested. I am also thankful for food. We would not be able to live without it. I am happy to have soldiers to fight for our country. They risk their lives every day so we can live long, happy lives. I am proud to have family and friends. Without them who would there be in the world for us to talk to. Finally, I am grateful for school and teachers. I love to learn and the teachers are smart and nice.

Del Mattila

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for many things but I don’t always stop and think about them. I appreciate many things. I love my family, friends and life. I enjoy the freedoms that we have because my dad helps to give us those freedoms, too. I like my teachers and the fact that we can learn. I care about all of my belongings and what they mean to me. Food, water, clothes and utensils mean a lot to me, since some people don’t have any. I love lots of things such as houses and cars. There are millions of things that I am thankful for but these are the main things. The one thing I am the most thankful for is God. So on Thanksgiving, I really take the time to think “Thank you God” for all the things you give.

Jessie Grabouski

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for a lot of things but I am mostly thankful for my family and friends because they love and care for me. I also appreciate all the privileges I get from them. One of the privileges I’m thankful for is dance. I enjoy dance which is why I appreciate it so much. I also enjoy being able to go to a friend’s house because it shows me my family thinks I’m responsible enough and that my friend accepts me at their house.

Chase Christian

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful and enjoy many things. I’m thankful for my friends and family. They are all very important to me. They support me a lot and help me. I’m also very thankful for the food my parents provide for me. Shelter is another thing I’m thankful for. The warmth and safety my home provides me is very important. Peace is another thing I love. I appreciate the soldiers who fight for us. There are many others but those just a few.

Caroline Benson

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for God because he saved us. I’m also glad for the privilege to live. I also enjoy the privilege to own guns. I also enjoy getting to own toys. I’m thankful for a house. That is what I’m thankful for.

Maxim Osborne

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for so many things. One thing I am thankful for is my family. I have a mom, a twin sister, a brother and a dad. My parents are divorced. Not everyone has a family. Another thing I am thankful for are my friends. I have a lot of great friends. I have a house. I am thankful for it because my mom doesn’t have very much money. I am also thankful for the food we have. I have two dogs. I love them. They keep me company when everyone is busy. As you can see, I am thankful for a lot of things.

Kaylie Gowens

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for many things. I’m thankful for my family and friends. I’m also thankful for my pets, Sammy, Scooby, Squishy, Finn and Phil. Another thing I’m happy to have is food and water. I’m proud of the freedoms our country has. I’m very thankful for our house, too. I’m lucky to have all of the good things I have.

Mason Hill

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for everything I have like freedom, equal rights and TV. I think they’re very important, except TV, that’s for fun. I’m also thankful for phones to communicate, hospitals so we can stay healthy and schools to be smart. I think all of those are very important. We need all of those things just for our every day lives. If we didn’t have those things, I might not be here right now.

Gage Chisholm

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for many things in my life. I’m thankful for the freedom in our country and for my family and friends. I’m happy for the warmth and safety my home provides. I love the peace and many rights that the USA gives us. I’m thankful for the many great presidents who gave us even more freedom and rights. I also really appreciate the soldiers who fight for us.

Isaac Jackson

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for a lot of things in my life. I am thankful for having all of my family safe at home. I also want to acknowledge all the privileges that come with living in America. Another reason I am thankful for is that I get to have a warm house and a warm bed. I also appreciate getting to make choices on my own.

Grace Erholtz

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving is a time of year when I remember things in my life I should be thankful for. I am thankful for my house and shelter that I live in. Food is something I also should be thankful for, along with my family who cooks for me. I am thankful for a lot of things but I am most thankful for my parents for taking care of me and raising me well.

Giano

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for many things in my life. I enjoy having a family and having friends. I love basketball, cross country and baseball. I am thankful for a free life and food. I love it that I am not a slave. I am very happy that I can go to school and learn math, reading, science, social studies, etc. So as you can see I am thankful for a lot of things.

Eric Loshko

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I think Thanksgiving is a great time to think about all of the people who have done nice things for us. We don’t always stop to think about everything other people have done for us. All of the loving people who surround me are people I should thank. They give me food and shelter. I appreciate everything they give me and sometimes forget to thank them. I wish everyone on Thanksgiving would take time out of their day to say thanks to everyone who has done something for them.

Kathryn Sundquist

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for many things, such as football. It’s been my favorite sport since I was little. I also like that I have a family and a home. I’m grateful for the things I have that other kids don’t. I also appreciate the food that I can eat for Thanksgiving, Christmas and just every day breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m thankful for an education. Those are the things I’m thankful for.

Carter Sobania

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for many things. First of all I am thankful for my family because I love them very much. I am also thankful for our house. I appreciate chairs because then we have something to sit on in school and at home. I also appreciate trees because they help us to breathe. I am thankful for many things that would take too long to write so that’s why I’m stopping with this.

Paige Cosgrove

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for a lot of things. First I am thankful for Mrs. Dewey, because she gave us pudding. After that I am thankful for both my dad’s house and my mom’s house. I am also thankful for all the plants we eat and boil alive but that’s just the way it is. Another thing I’m thankful for is Life cereal. The next thing I’m thankful for is all my pets, including the stray cats under our deck. The last thing I’m thankful for is my family because they pay for sports, food, entertainment and the roof over my head.

Abe Albrecht

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for being an American. Sometimes I stop and thank the soldiers in my prayers. In the mornings when we say the Pledge, all my mind can think is how lucky I am to be free. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and this year I’m thankful to be an American. I can be free by playing the sports I love. I’m thankful for having food on my plate everyday. I’m thankful for seeing my friends and family everyday. This Thanksgiving, when we sit down at the table and we say our grace, I will thank the soldiers who fought for freedom. I will thank my parents for always being there for me, but most importantly, I will say thanks for being an American.

Noah Ebinger

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving makes me stop and realize how thankful I am about my life. I’m thankful for my house, my family, and my wonderful friends that I have. I’m really thankful for my pets that are with me here today. I’m grateful for the money that provides us food on the table, the clothing that we wear everyday, the money that gives me school everyday, and the teachers who come and teach me everything I need to know in life, thank you. I am so, so, so grateful to have freedom and to be able to be here to be taught to read, write, do math and science. The most wonderful thing that makes me stop to think is the people who go and risk their lives away from their family and children just to save other families. That’s the things I am thankful for.

Talia Walters

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving reminds me to stop and realize that I have many happy things in my life. First of all, I love my family. Family and friends are the only reason worth living for. I also appreciate that my friends respect me for who I am. My family, too. I like that I have a roof to live under, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, an education, clothes to wear and a family to love me. I love them back!

Anthony Felix

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving reminds me to stop and appreciate life. I’m thankful for my family, relatives and cousins. I also enjoy my friends, food and a home. I’m glad to be free and have a good world to live on. Sports and games really add fun to my life. I’m grateful there are pets and animals, too. I really enjoy them. Electronics are fun to play and watch.

Evan Storbakken

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for many things like being able to play football. I like being able to play hide and seek and run around. I’m also thankful to have such a food family and friends. I’m really thankful to have food on my plate and a roof over my head. I’m very thankful to have cable, video games and a bike. Last but not least, I’m very thankful to have a very cute little Chihuahua.

Jake Borders

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for tons of things. Thanksgiving makes me think of how much people do everyday. I’m thankful for the soldiers that have served for our freedom. I’m thankful for not having slaves. It’s nice to have a leader like a president. I am thankful for that. I am also thankful for the entertainment systems that we have. I appreciate having the rights to do stuff. I like having a family to love and to rely on. It’s nice to be able to ride a dirt bike and do all the sports we can do today. I’m very happy to be able to live and cherish moments. All around I enjoy life the way it is.

Austin Aspros

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving reminds me to appreciate what I have. I am thankful that I have a family to love and to keep me happy. I’m glad I have clothes to wear everyday. I feel happy when there’s food on the table after school. I am thankful to have a nice warm bed to sleep in every night. I appreciate that my parents pay for me to go to school. I’m happy that I have friends to entertain me when I’m sad. I love that my parents get me presents on my birthday. It’s nice to have a leader like the president. Most of all, I am thankful for the U.S. Army who fight for the nation they love.

Emily Kassulker

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

The life I have today is making memories I will never forget. I am thankful for the veterans that fight for us in the war and sacrifice their lives to get our freedom. I am also thankful for my parents that put food on my plate, give me clothes to wear, and treat me the way a child should be treated. The electricity that heats our house and provides us with boiling water is a thankfulness I also have. My appreciation for my parents taking money out of the bank so me and my brother can go to school is very thoughtful. The effort and hard work my parents put into their jobs to provide the human resources that we need and to allow us to do family activities together I am grateful for. Nature provides us with food and the warmth we need to run our lives. If all this wouldn’t have happened, me and my family would never have the life we have today.

Kalie Sjodin

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving lets me have time to be thankful for my life. It’s the soldier that keeps me alive, so thank you. It’s nature that keeps me interested, so thank you. It’s school that keeps me educated, so thank you. It’s my friends and family that take care of me when I’m sick or injured. So Thanksgiving means to me a lot cause then I have time to say thank you to all these things.

Faith Brewster

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for the men and women who fought for our country. Thanksgiving is a good time because you can spend time with family and friends. I want all the people in the war to hang in there, it will be over soon. I am thankful for the roof over my head and the food on my plate.

Travis Iverslie

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving makes me think of all the things that I have. I’m thankful for my family, all my friends, and all the clothing that I have. I am also thankful for my house, my school, and my education. I also enjoy sports, animals, food and I most of all am thankful for freedom.

I enjoy having vehicles to ride in. I am super thankful for the people that risk their lives and go away from their families just to save or help other people and families. I am also thankful for all the teachers who come in and teach us math, science, gym, multimedia, reading, language arts and social studies.

Jaycie Hinrichs

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for the food on Thanksgiving. I love to hang around with my family. I have fun playing Xbox with my dad. I have a good time skateboarding with my older brother in my garage. I love to play Monopoly with my mom and mess with my cat. But most of all, I love to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my family. And those are some of the things I am thankful for.

Luke Lund

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for my life and for all my blessings! I love my life because I have all the freedom to make choices of what I can do! I am thankful for being alive and having parents that love me! Also, I am very thankful that I have food and clothes. I love all of my family members, even if they are annoying at times. I am thankful for my life!

Chantrelle Thayer

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving reminded me of everything I’m thankful for. I am thankful for freedom of religion. I am thankful for my family and being able to have four dogs, two birds and two lizards. I’m thankful for being able to do gymnastics, dance, softball and diving. Friends also make me thankful. Thanksgiving also reminds me of food and my house and how I’m not on the streets starving and some day I hope that they have a home to live in. That’s some ways I am thankful.

Lexie Bible

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for all my family and friends because they all remind me what Thanksgiving is all about. It is about giving thanks and good eating. I like the good eating part. Thanksgiving reminds me to care for those who need it.

Hunter Hanson

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for millions of things. One thing I am thankful for the people that are in the military and the people that are at war right now. Another thing I am thankful for is food and water. Another thing I am thankful for is friends and family. Thanksgiving reminds me to stop and thank all my friends and family for being there for me. I am thankful for a house but the thing I am most thankful for is my life.

Ethan Thompson

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I’m thankful for my family. My mom’s name is Mary. She does daycare for a job. My dad’s name is Patrick but most people call him Rick because my grandpa has the same name. They call my grandpa Pat. My grandma’s name is Dawn. My sisters’ names are Mashona, she has three kids, their girls are Brenna, Makayla and Ava. I have two other sisters. Their names are Jacque and Jayme, they’re twins. Jacque is pronounced Jackie. I have two brothers. Their names are Matthew and Nate. I am the youngest. I have lots of cousins and aunts and uncles. My family is very nice that’s why I’m thankful for my family.

Priscilla Doucette

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for many things like having food to eat and water to drink and a roof over my head. I appreciate having a bed to sleep in and electronics to play. Another thing I appreciate is my family and friends and school. I am thankful for God and Jesus and for us to go to Heaven. I am thankful for everything!

Joshua Glenn

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving makes me stop and be thankful for my family. My family is very special to me. The reason why I’m thankful for my family is because we all love each other. I’m also thankful for when my family gets together and we go camping. It’s fun! I’m also thankful for the times we get together and share memories. I’m thankful for the family members that were in the Army and those that are now. I’m happy and thankful for everything and everybody in my life.

Hailey Mollner

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am with my family for Thanksgiving. It is a lot of fun. My family is going to be there, my sister, my mom, my aunt Jamie, my grandmas are going to be there. We are going to have a big turkey for dinner. I enjoy the food that my aunt Jamie makes for dinner. It is really good. My sister and my cousin go crazy when they eat. They run around like they are crazy.

Alexis Vlaminck

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for Army men fighting for our country. I am happy about God, Jesus and Angels. I am happy about my family. I am happy about sports. I am thankful for jobs. I am happy about freedoms. I am happy about the animals. I am thankful for our homes. I am happy about electronics. I am thankful for the world!

Trent

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for my family. I love my mom, my dad, my aunties and uncles, and my cousins, too. My grandmas and grandpas are special people to me. They do lots of fun things. My family is so nice to me. Everybody cheers me up, and they always make me happy. Some of my cousins live far away and some live close. As long as I see them sometimes, I am just fine. I like it when they come see me. They are my family and I will always love them.

Carson Blegen

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

Thanksgiving reminds me to appreciate what my parents do for me. I’m thankful for my mom and dad who buy me what I need. I appreciate my aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas for watching me. I’m happy I have a brother and sister. I’m glad to have warm food on my plate. It makes me feel warm inside when my aunt makes warm ham. I am proud to be an American. I’m proud to show my true colors. I enjoy it when my mom and dad bring me to the movies. Most of all I’m thankful for my mom and dad.

Emily Thompson

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

I am thankful for a lot of things and one thing is to sleep in a home. I enjoy holidays like Halloween. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays too. I think I am going to my dad’s for Thanksgiving. We will go to his friend’s house. If I go to my dad’s, we are going to have a lot of food there. It will take us three hours to get there.

Jordan Mitchell

Mrs. West’s fifth-grade Forestview student

My family’s story starts in 2007 when my husband lost his job due to the lack of construction work. A few months later, I also lost my job. In this process we had just bought our first home and had to foreclose on it because we both were unable to find jobs to pay the mortgage. We lost one vehicle, luckily we had another to our whole family.

Long story short, we ended up after awhile finding a great place to live, my husband found a good job and we are making ends meet.

In October 2010, my husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after a four-year battle with doctors trying to find out why my husband was feeling the way he did. The doctors had no answers for us. We finally saw a neuroscience surgeon because my husband had something that looked like a lump on his spinal cord, we were told it looked like a tumor but luckily it was only a lesion. After many more tests, we were told it was MS.

In 2011, my husband started looking very ill, became very tired easily, and had no energy to play with our children or to even work but he went to work daily regardless of how he felt. In April 2011, he started to get a severe pain in his back and side. I rushed him to the ER where we were told it was a kidney stone starting to pass. We had a follow up appointment with a doctor because it had been a week and he was still in tremendous pain. We were told at that appointment that the bottom part of his lungs were white and he had to see a pulmonary doctor as soon as possible because he may have lung cancer. We had no idea what to expect; he isn’t even 30 years old yet. We didn’t know how to keep it from our children or family but wanted the support. We ended up waiting until we knew more just so no one would worry. After many tests, biopsies, etc., we were told he had sarcoidosis. He was then given medicine to treat this but with both diseases there is no cure, only remission. He is now feeling better but does have his days where it is hard.

I am the most thankful for having a great provider, our Lord Jesus Christ, a nice place to raise our children, my husband’s job, his ability to overcome all of this without anger, our family that has been there for us to help us when we needed help, our wonderful church family (First Baptist of Baxter) that was also always there for us and still is. I am also thankful for the hearts we have been able to touch with our story, the Minnesota chapter, MS Society, the doctors that have helped us on our journey and their awesome nurses.

I am also very thankful for having a wonderful, loving husband and wonderful, understanding children.

Our children are Tiana, 12; Hailey, 11; Allison, 9; and Matthew, 2.

Thanks for letting me share what I am so thankful for this year and every year.

Destiny Brown

The Minnesota Teen Challenge Brainerd Campus staff and students have many faithful, giving folks in this community to thank for their success this year. The local campus is packed with a record 60 residents, all progressing toward new lives free from alcohol and drug addictions.

Their success stories are told every day. Graduations move them to new futures in school, as employees and back with families. All this is possible due to the generosity of so many individuals, businesses, volunteers and others who give so much of their time and money to keep these doors open.

Every dollar is vital, every friend is priceless and every prayer is welcome. Here at Teen Challenge, we are thankful for this community.

Thank You and God Bless,

Jim Kalkofen

Development Director

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