CHEERS: To the many groups, organizations, businesses and individuals who once again helped make Thanksgiving a special day for those in need. Among the many who worked hard on and before the day were the Regional Economic Community Action Program in Middletown which connected 500 families with turkeys in time for Thanksgiving. The Middletown YMCA Leaders Club assembled hundreds of turkey packages. Monroe American Legion donated turkeys and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County Gleaning Program donated turkeys and over 50 cases of fresh produce including pumpkins, squash and broccoli. The Powelton Club of Newburgh donated 80 turkeys. ShopRite of Middletown donated turkeys and cases of plastic and paper bags. Substantial cash donations came from Orange & Rockland Utilities, Balchem Corporation, United Way of Dutchess & Orange, Alex Wander, Craig Calzaretta & Michelle Koury, and Tony Boffa’s Restaurant.

And to the volunteers and other helpers at the Guild of St. Margaret Soup Kitchen who prepared the annual Thanksgiving meal. The soup kitchen and the holiday dinner are part of the outreach efforts of Grace Episcopal Church, which houses them at 12 Depot St. in Middletown. The Guild of St. Margaret is supported by the church, community and fraternal organizations, business donations, state funding, the Regional Food Bank of Northeast New York and individual donations. The Thanksgiving dinner is a longstanding annual tradition supported by community donations, as is the annual Christmas lunch. Executive Director Phyllis Guardino says that at the start of a month the kitchen sees 80-85 people for lunch and maybe 20 for breakfast. Later in the month, when money gets tighter, they’ll see 145-150 people per day. The cold months, November through February, are the busiest. People’s expenses tend to be higher then, with Christmas coming up and heating bills, and seasonal farm workers aren’t employed over the winter, she says.

CHEERS: To the City of Newburgh for helping restore some important history. The City Council has approved a $28,398 contract to restore a Civil War monument at Downing Park that was shattered when a driver plowed into it in July 2016. The collision toppled the monument’s centerpiece, an 8½ -foot-high block, and damaged two marble benches that sat on each side. A $25,000 insurance payout is covering most of the restoration cost. Donations raised through the Downing Park Planning Committee and veterans are also being used.

CHEERS: To Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., for coming to the aid of local motorists and putting more pressure on CSX to upgrade two deteriorating railroad crossings in New Windsor that have been in disrepair for several years and are causing minor accidents and vehicle damage. He has written James Foote, CEO of the freight railroad, urging CSX to go beyond the temporary repairs it has done at the Temple Hill Road and Union Avenue crossings and work with town officials on long-term improvements. The crossings have worsened since CSX made temporary repairs at those spots in 2013, resulting in popped tires or more serious car damage and endangering cyclists, he said. CSX said it plans to install track panels and repave the asphalt next spring and will make temporary repairs in the meantime.