In the old days, Thanksgiving was a time to express gratitude for the bounty of the harvest.

Today, Thanksgiving is still a day of thanks, but it has become an occasion on which to celebrate many of the good things in life -- family, friends, good health, a warm home and a great turkey dinner.

Most Americans, including most residents of Greater New Milford, have much for which to be thankful. We are happy for them, and we wish them a joyous Thanksgiving holiday next Thursday.

Sadly, however, there are far too many among us who don't have family or friends, who are suffering ill health, who don't have a roof over their head or who can't count on a delicious meal on Thanksgiving Day.

Our hearts go out to those folks, and we call on everyone in a position to do so to reach out and help make the Thanksgiving holiday a warm, memorable one for those in need.

One of the wonderful aspects of living in Greater New Milford is that there are countless churches and groups who do extend a caring hand and who do try to make Thanksgiving a special day for many of those who don't have a lot of special days.

The Association of Religious Communities of Danbury will set the tone for the Thanksgiving season when they host the 22nd annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at the United Jewish Center in Danbury on Monday at 7 p.m. Those who attend are asked to donate canned food, which will be distributed to those in need.

Once again this year, there are a number of Thanksgiving feasts planned by churches and other organizations that are open to those who would not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner.

Some families and individuals reach out and help, too, like the Easley family of New Milford, which along with Loaves and Fishes Hospitality House annually coordinates a project -- in memory of their son Dustin Easley, who was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Thanksgiving morning 10 years ago -- that provides Thanksgiving dinners for dozens of needy residents.

We applaud all those churches, organizations, families and individuals for their kind works.

And we encourage other groups and individuals to reach out -- even in small ways -- to help make Thanksgiving a better day for senior citizens, for shut-ins, for those living alone, for those down on their luck.

Volunteer to help the Easleys with their project. Volunteer to help at one of the feasts put on by churches and other groups.

Invite a neighbor over for Thanksgiving dinner. Drop off a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to someone in need. Buy a turkey or a bag of groceries for a family that would otherwise go without.

There are many ways to brighten up Thanksgiving Day for your neighbors or others in need.

If everyone pitches in, there will be a lot more people in our community who will have reason to be thankful come next Thursday.