Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Last week was the most wonderful time of the year



Were you one of the hundreds of people who filled a stocking for a student or helped delver meals to feed children over their Christmas break from school last week? 
This reporter has covered untimely deaths, robberies, even a suicide that took place in a hotel lobby. I don’t relish going to vehicle accidents. They aren’t exciting or entertaining, even though they seem to garner the most attention among readers. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the old maxim of newspaper people simply because that seems to be what people want to read about. 
I like to cover government meetings when I can represent you, the reader, and learn the information that I am convinced you want to know about, but I don’t like to write about the bickering that sometimes goes on. I once got in trouble because one of the publisher’s friends (at another paper) complained I didn’t write about his attempt at character assassination. He seemed to think that if he attacked the attorney hired by the county commissioners I should help him by publishing his remarks. I didn’t do it and he told the publisher. 
Yes, there are lots of stories that no reporters want to cover. 
There are some stories any of us would love to cover. One of those was the grass roots effort to feed Brazil children over Christmas break and provide a little joy in the form of a Christmas stocking. 
“It’s amazing what people can do when we work together,” a friend said when we were talking about the effort. 
Nearly 400 children in 167 families benefited from the effort of volunteers, the YMCA and Duke Energy. 
A friend criticized the effort saying, “All you are doing is teaching kids to grow up to be lazy and expect others to take care of them.” 
These are children we are talking about. Just maybe if they realize others care about them they will care about themselves. Isn’t that how we raise our children? 
I read comments about the tragic fire in the house on East Mechanic Street that claimed three lives. The writer had contributed to the effort to help the family members who survived but he also asked where were Child Protective Services and other government agencies that should have been intervening. 
That is a good question and one that needs to be publicly answered. 
One of the reasons so many children in Brazil need so much help is ignorance. 
As the ghost in Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” told Scrooge, “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”
Too many families living in poverty simply get used to the idea of living on welfare or on the generosity of others. Apparently, they do not get the message that their lives can be greatly improved by getting the training necessary to make their service valuable to employers. 
But that’s not the children’s fault. 
When I drove up to the entrance to the fairgrounds last week and saw all the vehicles that filled the parking lots and spilled over to fill the driveway, it just did me so much good. 
Then, when I walked into the exhibit hall and saw the hundreds of people gathered to help distribute the food and Christmas stockings it just made my whole Christmas this year. 
It just brought a lump to my throat not unlike the final scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life” when the community preys but then turns out to give money to George Bailey so the Building & Loan won’t be short and the warrant for his arrest is torn up by the Sheriff. 
Those people reaching out to take care of the children in this community is a true story and so moving. 
God bless Terry Barr, Lisa Byers, Susie French and Nicole Fry and hundreds of others. God bless Rick Burger and Duke Energy for that $15,000 grant. 

We have much to celebrate as we enter the new year. We also have much to think about.