OGDEN -- Brandon Wixom, 33, of Roy, couldn't be happier to have gotten a job at Dollar Tree.
On his first day last week, Wixom said his smile extended from ear to ear.
"People were like, 'I can't believe you are so excited to work at the dollar store,' " he said. "But it's a job. It's a job!"
Having lost his previous job in June, Wixom said he's excited to have a job at all.
"It took me four months to get an interview," Wixom said. "I used to be able to walk into a place and get a job that day."
Wixom spent a day off from his new job volunteering at the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank, helping the agency hand out holiday food baskets for today's Thanksgiving meal.
"When you are sitting around and you can't find a job, your confidence drops more and more and more," he said. "Volunteering is something to lift your spirits and make you feel better about yourself."
Officials at the food bank said they were surprised this year both by the increased number of people needing assistance as well as the number of those wishing to help.
Bob Hunter, president and CEO of United Way of Northern Utah, said he's noticed a trend of people becoming more grateful and sharing more during times of financial stress.
"During tough economic times, communities always tend to come through," Hunter said. "Often it happens from within when local citizens step it up and rebuild through their donations and in-kind services."
Hunter said during the Thanksgiving holiday Turkey Drive, a young father, dressed in tattered clothing, drove up in a car he described as a poor automobile and emerged with one of the biggest turkeys Hunter had ever seen.
"His appearance told me his own family deserved some assistance, but his generous smile told me his family was proud to do its part."
Brad Drake, executive director of Catholic Community Services of Utah, said he's noticed people are more thankful and more giving right now, which is helping to solve the problem of providing for more people in need.
"The problem is a lot of people that were giving are either in need themselves or are not able to give because of loss of employment," Drake said.
North Ogden resident Vickie Harper Hansen said she believes the majority of people are more thankful during hard economic times.
"More people who dislike their jobs are thankful that they have one," she said. "More people are grateful for their marriages, when they see so many struggling. More are being creative in the meals they make, the vacations they take and the homemade Christmas gift ideas that come from the heart."
Hansen said that two years ago this week, she found out her son did not have cancer as was previously feared.
"It was humbling and put life in perspective," she said. "It is the gift of trials that make us grow and help us realize and reflect on what the most important things in life really are; and it is not the things, but family and friends and the memories we create. For this, I give thanks."
Hooper resident Andrea Widdison said she has noticed a trend during recent economic hardships that mirrors responses after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
"Having seen so many of our friends, neighbors, and family members lose their jobs -- and homes -- sharpens our awareness of our own blessings," she said. "It seems that the worst of times often brings out the best in people. And anyone who has ever been a missionary will tell you that the most affluent people are the least inclined to attribute their good fortune to God."