OPINION: Giving Thanks, Helping Others

By Martin O'Malley, Governor

With Thanksgiving upon us, we are reminded of those Maryland families who are struggling during these difficult economic times. In Maryland, more than 184,000 kids don't have ready or reliable access to the nutrition they need to lead healthy, active lives. So this week, we stood with our partners at the national nonprofit organization Share Our Strength® to announce an exciting new partnership to end childhood hunger in our State.

Maryland should be leading the way in this effort, and in partnership with Share Our Strength®, we will become the first state in the nation to end childhood hunger within its borders. This partnership will reach children at risk of hunger in Maryland by increasing participation in existing, effective but under-utilized programs using federal funds already available for these purposes.

We are committed to protecting and strengthening our middle class, particularly during these difficult economic times. Together, we have:

-- Passed sweeping legislation to protect homeowners from foreclosure.

-- Established the nation's first living wage law.

-- Expanded access to quality, affordable healthcare for 100,000 more Marylanders.

-- Reformed the ground rent system, eliminating the creation of new ground rents.

-- Improved reintegration and transition services for our veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

-- Closed the Medicare prescription drug coverage “donut hole” for seniors.

During this Thanksgiving week, it is fitting that we unveil a new resource for Maryland families to access state and federal resources they may qualify for.

Beginning today Marylanders can visit http://problemsolver.maryland.gov/ to find information on a range of services, from heating and energy assistance, to employment assistance, including job training and unemployment services. Seniors can also access services, as well as help for those living with disabilities. The webpage also provides a link to an assistance eligibility calculator, which helps Marylanders determine what services they may qualify for, such as food stamps, the Temporary Cash Assistance program, Medical Assistance, the Maryland Energy Assistance Program, and the Electric Universal Service Program, among others.

As you gather with your families and friends this Thanksgiving, please take the time to consider those less fortunate. As One Maryland, we can expand opportunity to more Marylanders rather than fewer, so all our citizens have access to the dreams and prospects that build the American middle class.

On behalf of my family, and all those serving in your State government, have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

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