When I was growing up, there were paper mills all across rural Maine. They provided good-paying jobs, and a skilled workforce, and gave families the foundation they could rely on for a bright future.
When a changing economy shuttered so many mills, thousands of hardworking Maine people were left without a way to provide for their families.
Faced with uncertainty and economic instability, Maine people could have focused on their own families first and just ignored the needs of their neighbors.
But we know, that is not the Maine way.
Good morning, I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.
In 2003, in the wake of several mill closures, Solidarity Harvest was founded. Every year since then, unions, farmers, faith communities, volunteer organizations, and businesses have gotten together every year to provide locally-grown food to laid-off workers and families who have hit hard times.
Last year more than 400 people — including some past recipients of meals — and 50 organizations volunteered their time and resources to Solidary Harvest to distribute 1,300 meals to families in Maine.
This week, I was proud to join volunteers for “Sort Week” to help Solidarity Harvest assemble food baskets to be delivered to recipients before Thanksgiving Day.
Maine farms and the farmers who run them are a cornerstone of our state’s economy, producing a variety of high-quality crops that contribute substantially to our way of life.
There is no reason for anyone to go hungry in Maine when we have healthy food grown by our neighbors right at our fingertips.
The baskets distributed by Solidarity Harvest combine fresh vegetables along with apples, homemade apple cider and bread and a turkey with all the fixings — all provided by Maine community members, farms, and businesses.
Solidarity Harvest is just one of the many charitable organizations helping Maine people in need during this holiday season.
From Solidarity Harvest to Stuff the Bus, which is led by Chuck Igo and provides food to Preble Street Kitchen, I urge all of you to see how you and your family might lend a helping hand this holiday season.
Looking out for one another is at the heart of our state, just as bringing people together to celebrate life’s blessings has been at the heart of the Thanksgiving holiday since its creation.
On October 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared a National day of Thanksgiving.
“In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity…peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere…” he said. “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are ...gracious gifts… It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands,” he said, “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving.”
As we gather to give thanks this Thanksgiving, let us remember the gracious gifts we have received and let us extend our hands to welcome others to our tables, to our homes, and to our hearts.
That is the Maine way.
I am wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving.
I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.