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updated 9/22/2009 6:41:19 PM ET 2009-09-22T22:41:19

When Summer Sellers lost her job and couldn’t pay her mortgage, she refused to give in to the recession.

"Every day is tough," said Sellers, of Elkhart, Ind. "But in and through this downturn, I’ve learned a lot of different things that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise."

Some of her difficult moments: "I lost a great job, but I was lucky to find another one. I cashed out my 401(k)and played catch-up with my bills. I didn’t want to lose my home. I knew I had to keep hanging onto my life’s major investment. My boyfriend and my mom helped me out with that. I couldn't have done it without them. And for that, I'm thankful."

When faced with challenge, millions of Americans like Sellers have looked for a silver lining.

Denise Keeler of Flint, Mich., found one.

"My family’s health has been the biggest blessing," said the mother of two boys, ages 6 and 4.

Keeler has watched family and friends struggle to find work in a state where the unemployment rate has hit 15 percent. She has hugged and cried with neighbors who were forced to leave their neighborhood after banks foreclosed on homes.

"The money you would spend on silly things can now go to helping a family," she says. "I am so thankful I can give — even it is $10."

Now, we want to hear from you. Did you find more faith, grow closer to your family or your community? Send us your story, along with a photo or video, for a Thanksgiving special report.

© 2012 msnbc.com Reprints

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