During a recent interview, the head of a local food bank told a story of a woman who, like many on the Gold Coast, had everything: a husband with a great job, wonderful kids and a very comfortable lifestyle.

But, like many others, her husband lost his job, and their lifestyle came crashing down. Never having to accept charity, she was reluctant to go to the food bank, even though she and her family needed the help. She came around eventually, and began making regular stops to pick up necessities.

In the end, she told the food bank director that she learned plenty from the experience -- from being on the "other side" -- and she's more appreciative of what she has.

On Thanksgiving, when families were crowded around their dining room tables, digging into turkey and stuffing we can't forget to give thanks for everything we have.

And maybe this year, compared to those in the past, it's more important than ever.

The recession hasn't let up, store fronts are still closing and local food banks are still in need.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecticut's unemployment rate is still at its highest point -- 8.2 percent -- while in October, the national unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent, the highest since April 1983. The largest job losses over the month were in construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

A flashing message on the Connecticut's Department of Labor's Web site, dated Nov. 17, showed how dire the situation is.

"Because of high volume due to the expanded federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, you may experience some difficulty filing your claim via the Web or by telephone. We apologize for any inconvenience."

The program, created in June 2008, makes up to 13 additional weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits available to unemployed individuals nationwide who have already exhausted their eligible state benefits and who met other eligibility requirements.

But enough with the statistics. Yes, it's still a grave situation, and many people, including residents in our own Fairfield County, are doing their best to get by.

Unfortunately, the misconception that people on the Gold Coast don't need help is still alive and well. The truth is they do, especially now that money is so tight and the food banks aren't getting the support they're accustomed to.

There are plenty of ways to help your neighbors, and some of them are as easy as cleaning out your cupboards and donating what you won't use.

While you're feasting on leftovers, be sure to tell remind family and friends how thankful you are for them, but please don't forget those less fortunate during this holiday season.

To donate food to the Christian Community Action at 98 South Main St., call 899-2487 or to the Open Door Shelter, call 866-1057 .