The line formed well before any of us arrived. There were hundreds of people quietly and patiently waiting. Some had young children with them. Others were joined by a spouse or relative. Many stood quietly alone. Each person's path that led to this line is different, but the conclusion is the same: Times are tough for many of our friends and neighbors and they need some extra help.I spent a recent afternoon at the New Horizons soup kitchen and shelter in Manchester, where Speedway Children’s Charities donated 400 Thanksgiving meals to families in need. I met some amazing people whose spirits remain high despite the challenges they face.

The entire NHMS team took the day off from Loudon to volunteer at the shelter. We handed out holiday meals, served food to the lunch crowd and, most importantly, we connected with the very special men, women and children who passed through that day.

I couldn’t be more proud of my Speedway family as I watched the afternoon progress. Everyone pitched in with passion and we were busy all day long. Some team members walked several blocks, carrying boxes of food, to make sure those with young children could safely return home. Others went inside to create care packages for those who couldn’t make it to the shelter before the holiday, but who needed a delivery to ensure they had at least one decent meal. The scene was both heartbreaking and uplifting.

I am inspired by the people I met and was reminded of the everyday struggle many families face with courage and optimism. If you can donate to a local charity this holiday season, please do so. The need is great, but what I learned from New Horizons is that every little bit makes a real difference to a family in need.

In a few weeks, Speedway Children’s Charities will complete its 2012 good-will effort by handing out grants to local non-profit groups. This year, we are proud to donate a total of more than $150,000 to area children’s charities. From the local food bank to the YMCA, SCC is honored to play a role in funding the programs that serve children in New Hampshire.

We will hand out the grants on Dec. 11 in a special ceremony with several dozen area non-profit agencies. It feels a lot like Christmas for all of us. There is nothing that quite captures the joy of being able to help those whose sole mission is to help others. That kind of feeling is contagious … my entire staff has it.

All of us at New Hampshire Motor Speedway wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous and happy future.