(EDITOR'S NOTE: With Thanksgiving to be celebrated Thursday, the following stories reflect what some area residents are feeling grateful for as they contemplate their blessings this holiday. Their stories were generated from the newspaper's appeal for their expressions of gratitude.)
ONE YEAR, SIX ADDITIONS
Doris Starr of Toronto is at no loss when it comes to counting her many blessings.
"I am a mother, blessed with three wonderful children, Tim, Becky and Rusty. I am so thankful for my children, and they all live right here in Toronto," she wrote.
"I have also been blessed with nine wonderful grandchildren, ages 35 to 21, and I am lucky that five of them live right here in the Ohio Valley. I thank God for the blessings grandchildren bring," she said.
"Then six years ago, I became a great-grandmother to Elli in 2006, and again in 2007 I was blessed with another great-grandchild, Payne," she reminisced."
"My late husband, Terry, and I enjoyed becoming great-grandparents, especially watching our children becoming grandparents. Our house was full of noise, fun and laughter at all the holidays and family get-togethers," she said.
"I lost my husband to cancer in 2008. Having such a big and caring family helped me get through those rough days and months and years without him," she said.
But God wasn't finished with the blessings, according to Starr.
"In 2010 another great-grandchild, Jett, joined my open arms, and 2011 brought yet another great-granddaughter to the family - Gianna. But 2012 has been a year of bountiful blessings to me, beyond my wildest dreams, as six new great-grandbabies have joined our family. Yes, that's right, six, in one year," she wrote.
"January brought Blake to Brad and Julie (Starr) Schwartz; March brought Jagger to Jesse and Katie (Foster) Evans; April brought Evan to Matt and Tara (Starr) O'Rourke; August brought Avila to Gerald and Mindy (Foster) Schlechter; and September brought Steven to Adam and Morgan (Lewis) Starr and Navi to Jace and Emily (Foster) Pearson. Six great-grandbabies in nine months, all healthy and happy," Starr wrote.
"My children, Tim and Beaver Starr, Jeff and Becky Foster and Rusty and Cindy Starr, have all joined the ranks of the happy grandparents. And I am sure there is a very proud great-grandpa looking down from heaven on these blessings. Babies are always a blessing. But to get six in one year, well, that's just pretty amazing. God does some amazing things," Starr said.
And 2013 will be a good year as well, according to Starr, who is anticipating another family addition - "my next great-grandchild in June, from Jared and Deanna (Foster) Rock."
Three coupon enthusiasts put their favorite hobby and talents to work for "Make a Difference Day," making their church thankful.
Sisters Karen Dobzynski and Mary Beth Dobzynski and Andrea Cooper, Karen's daughter-in-law, spent several hours each day for one week at local Kroger stores where they were able to "bag" more than 1,500 Betty Crocker/General Mills products for free.
On Make a Difference Day Oct. 27, they donated all the food to Grace's Cupboard, an outreach ministry of Grace Lutheran Church located at 2105 Sunset Blvd., Steubenville.
"Delivery of the items took some time, but everyone pitched in, and soon the groceries were stacked in the office, where they will be sorted and stored," Karen said.
The trio expressed its gratitude to the Wintersville and Weirton Kroger for their help and assistance.
And Grace Lutheran Church expressed its appreciation as well for the trio using their talents to help feed those in need.
Family, friends and health are among the blessings that Eleanor Kindsvatter of Wintersville feels grateful for this Thanksgiving.
And memories, too.
"I was lucky enough to grow up in a much easier time, during the 1950s, in a great town - Adena. I have so many found memories of school, band, football games, school plays and special friends," Kindsvatter said.
"We were free to walk to everything without fear. We enjoyed each other's company and did not have the bullying that there is today. There were special places that stand out in my memory - Kay's Grill and even the Cadiz Drive-In," she reminisced.
"After graduating in 1956, I started on my journey to become a nurse at Ohio Valley Hospital School of Nursing, spending three years there working and learning and making lasting friendships. It was hard work but well worth it to attend the best school of nursing anywhere around," she said.
"I must say how fortunate I was to have parents who supported the importance of education for females. My mom, dad and Aunt Bea were always there with such support and love for me all my life," she said.
"After graduation in 1959, I was married to Tom. We had three wonderful children - Robert, Brian and Heather. They grew up in Wintersville. They had many years of fun, and our back yard became everything from a football field to an ice skating rink. We saw them grow and had many great times as our children grew into adults, graduated from college, married and had children of their own," Kindsvatter reflected.
But life is never without its struggles and sadness, she noted.
"We lost Robert to cancer but know he is with God. We were so blessed that he had a wonderful wife to care for him during his eight-year battle. We are so thankful to Lynette," she said.
Sadness struck again when son Brian and his wife, Stephanie, lost their 8-month-old son Drew to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - "such a shock and devastation, but he, too, is with God, and they have three great children: Rachel, Bret and Ava," Kindsvatter said.
She is thankful for her seven grandchildren: Nick, who works for Smuckers; Terren, a pharmacist; Dustin, a minister at Scio Church of the Nazarene; Rachel, a sophomore at Colorado University; Chelsie, who is in the medical program at the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School; and high school students Bret and Ava.
"Dustin and Kim gave us our first great-grandchild, Gabrial Call, and there may be a little girl by the time you read this to add to our family," Kindsvatter wrote.
"We live in a great country which at the present time is struggling, but with God's help will get back on the right track. We have so much to be grateful for - family, friends and church," she said.
"I ask God's blessing on all who are ill and troubled and in need of love and support."
A 'GIVING SPIRIT'
Pat and Shanly Lynskey of the Steubenville area are especially thankful for their 11-year-old daughter Kelly Anne Lynskey.
Proud, too, of her "giving spirit" and her compassion for others.
It was on her 11th birthday in August, for example, that Kelly Anne donated 11 inches of her hair to Locks for Love, a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis, according to its website. It notes that most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses its provides helps to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers, it notes.
That marked the third time, though, for her to donate her hair, according to Shanly.
It also was at her encouragement that the family begin monthly donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
"She has a very giving spirit," her mother said.
Kelly Anne is a fifth-grader at Pleasant Hill Elementary School who loves animals and takes violin and piano lessons.
Family makes Karen Davis of Bergholz happy year-round but especially come Thanksgiving as a time to be mindful of many blessings.
"As the holidays near, I think even more about how blessed my husband Jack and I are," she wrote in response to the newspaper's appeal for what readers are feeling thankful for. "We dated in high school, married in 1980, and were blessed with our three daughters, Jill, Jolie and Jayci. Now 32 years later, we have had the joy and added blessing of our first grandchild," she said.
That would be Liam, the son of Brian and Jill Bissett.
"Liam turned 2 in August, and in those two years, he has filled our hearts with a love that we never knew was missing," she wrote. "From the moment we looked into his eyes and his tiny fingers wrapped around ours, he had us. We have enjoyed watching him grow, all his firsts - crawling, sitting, walking, his first tooth, his first words - and waited anxiously to hear what he was going to call us. We have been named 'Mawmaw and Pappy' names we are most honored to have," she said.
"Liam stays with us three nights a week while his dad, a Steubenville police officer, and his mom, a critical care nurse at Trinity, work their midnight shifts," Karen wrote. "Having the sound of his little feet pitter pattering on the floor - and I must add it is usually with his tractor mud boots that are his absolute favorite - hearing his giggles and having conversation with him is priceless," she wrote.
The Davises now have another grandchild as a Thanksgiving blessing/early Christmas present as daughter Jolie gave birth to Jude on Nov. 9.
And a third grandchild is on the way as the Bissetts are anticipating the birth of a little brother for Liam who will be named Luke and is due to arrive on Nov. 26.
"Jack and I are overflowing with joy and excitement as we begin this journey of having little boys around the house, lots of little boy things, tractors, trucks, mud, bugs, etc. This is quite a change from having three little girls in the house with Barbies, dollhouses and babydolls," Karen reminisced.
"Thankful? Oh yes. God has given us the gift of three children, the gift of three beautiful grandchildren and the gift of love and family," she said.
Ruth Hayes of Annapolis said she is thankful for having had "the most amazing mother any child could ever have - Bertha Burrier Moffat. She married my father, LeRoy Moffat, and together they were blessed with six children, one of whom had cerebral palsy, my brother Johnny."
Hayes wrote, "Her day consisted of washing clothes, cleaning and, of course, fixing meals for eight people. After supper, she would work with Johnny on his schoolwork until bedtime," she reminisced.
"My father passed away in March of 1960, leaving mom with six children to raise and support. She would take in laundry and do odd jobs to bring in extra money. She finally got a job as a cook at the East Springfield elementary school, where she worked until her retirement. She worked very hard for us kids. She was the glue that held the family together. She loved God and her children very much," Hayes said.
"She passed away in October of 1997 at the age of 77, leaving me with the caregiving of Johnny until his passing in June of 2011 at the age of 62. It was a delightful and rewarding experience," Hayes said.
"I miss them both terribly every day, but I am very thankful for having had them both in my life," she said.
"We are so thankful for all those who prayed for Jason Todd Roe of Lake Wales, Fla., formerly of Richmond. At age 40 he lost his battle to cancer and went home to be with his Lord and Savior on July 13, 2012," wrote Richmond resident Marie Barnhouse of the nephew that she and her husband, Dave, loved dearly.
"Jason was born without thumbs and always greeted people with 'Give me four.' He was such an encouragement to the students at Warner University in Lake Wales. Now he is in Heaven saying 'Give me five," Marie wrote of her nephew, the son of Billy and Leanna Lacy Roe of Dunbar, W.Va., formerly of Richmond.
Barnhouse said Jason attended Warner University from 1992-96, then began working there in 1997. His passion, she said, was "to help others realize their potential and allow them to know the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Up until his last breath he proclaimed that all should live life to the fullest."
She said he loved his church, South Lake Wales Church of God, and ministered to others through song and through working with teens and college students.
A devoted husband and proud father, Jason is survived by his wife, Lana, and three children: Hallie, Griffin and Collins.
"Even when we lose so much in life, we are still thankful for what we still have," begins Carol Hauber's letter detailing what she is grateful for in this season of Thanksgiving.
"I am blessed by living in the amazing town of Piney Fork, where everyone seems like a loving, caring family," write the Dillonvale resident. "People are there when you need them in loss or in illness. They are there helping out without being asked," she said.
"I thank my dear friends who always stood by me when life became harsh and so much went wrong with things that should have been right. I thank my companion, Mike, who helped so much in the care of not only my mother, Marie Bednar, but through my illness. He cooked and cleaned, cut grass and gardened when I was unable to do so," she said.
"I appreciate my brother, Ed, who is the best sibling anyone can have. He gave me the courage to come out of my shell and write again," she said.
"I am thankful for the Sadar family - cousins - who came out in force during my mother's funeral and to my dearest cousin, Chris Kowalski, who has always been the protector in my life," she wrote. "It will not only be at Thanksgiving that I will be grateful for all of these people, but every day that I live," Hauber said.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)