A community of givers

Thursday, December 27, 2007

To quote Bob Callahan with the Cassville American Legion the "Christmas spirit is alive" in the Barry County area. Callahan and fellow Legionnaire Pete Landstad, under the direction of Jim Stephens, were out spreading Christmas cheer at Ramey's last Wednesday evening as the Legion paid for 30 families to shop for their Christmas meal. Depending on the size of the family, individuals were given $40 to $100 to purchase food and necessity items. The effort is funded by Legion bingo and coordinated with the Share Your Christmas campaign.

This outpouring of generosity is just one of many made this Christmas season. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure, (thanks to an invitation from Cheri Shumaker) to volunteer with one part of Share Your Christmas. I gathered at the United Methodist Church in Cassville with several other ladies to help sort donated toys and fill Christmas wish lists for young children in need. This was a delightful experience that I had photographed in the past but never worked, and I couldn't believe all the toys that kept arriving at the United Methodist Church fellowship hall. Box upon box of toys were delivered with enough donated to give each youngster at least two items on their list plus a few stocking stuffers. We all felt a little like Santa Claus as we distributed toys to each family and filled bags to overflowing.

It is always amazing to me to witness how this community responds when there is a need. Even though Christmas can be a stressful time, area citizens dug deep and gave generously to make sure people who have fallen on hard times would have a joyful holiday.

Share Your Christmas is just one of many charitable efforts out there. Throughout the coming year, there will be dozens of other opportunities for you to give to help others. Sometimes the budget doesn't allow to give financially, so why not consider giving of your time and talents. Those who volunteer are just as valuable as those who send in hefty checks.

The key to giving is to give cheerfully and without a thought of receiving anything back. Sometimes it's most fun to give anonymously. You know what you did, and God definitely knows and that person that you helped has received assistance without feeling as if they owe someone something. The wonderful thing about giving is that it changes us and we are ultimately blessed for it.

As 2007 comes to end, we encourage you to consider giving of your time, your talents or your finances in 2008. Generosity and the willingness to get involved in helping others is what makes Barry County such a great community in which to live. We'd also like to thank all those who were involved in the 2007 Share Your Christmas campaign. We hope your Christmas will be a little brighter knowing you had a part in making sure at least 130 area families have presents under the tree and food on the table this holiday season.