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At 6:45 this morning my daughter and I arrived in downtown Visalia, bundled up layer by layer against the November morning chill.  A local rock and roll band was covering favorites from the ’60s forward, and registration tents sheltered volunteers handing out vest numbers and race tee shirts.  There was a wonderful party spirit in the air, as friends found each other in the gathering crowd, exchanging high-5s and hugs.  This is what Visalia does best:  friends, families, and neighbors joining together to raise money for those less fortunate while having a wonderful time.

This was my third year participating in the “walking” race…one mile right down the middle of Main Street and one mile back.  (A group from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has gathered for this race for the last several years.)  My daughter was celebrating two months as a non-smoker by running her first 5K with a friend.

As we waited for the kids races to end, the emcee announced that our race participation this year would enable Visalia Emergency Aid to feed 2,500 families with at least 5,000 children this winter!

We took off a little after 8:00 a.m.; our little group included 7 adults, 2 dogs, and the newest member of our congregation snuggled up in a pack on his mommy’s chest.  At one point I looked around me and counted at least six strollers and seven dogs in my immediate vicinity, people sporting turkey hats, elf costumes, tutus, and, of course, Turkey Trot 2013 tee shirts.

The final count wasn’t in by the time we finished, but the preliminary count was 6,000 participants this year, proof positive that no matter how gloomy the television news may be, generosity and goodwill are alive and well in Visalia.  By 9:00 a.m., we were back home in our kitchen working on our Thanksgiving feast, content that we had each done our part in feeding others in our community.

I am blessed.