Saluting Generous Neighbors

Happy holidays, readers!

In this season of giving, it is not hyperbole to say that we live in one of the most generous regions of the country. If you have any doubts about the character of your neighbors, consider the numerous acts of selfless generosity performed by area residents for others in their communities.

We can’t begin to list all of the toy drives, food distributions and gift presentations made to help families and individuals who are in need. The countless charitable projects offer a glimpse of the kind, loving people who live in this area.

Churches, religious groups, civic clubs and community service organizations orchestrate the majority of these campaigns, but businesses, corporations, schools and other professional entities also provide significant assistance through monetary contributions and donations of clothing, food and toys to various drives.

Many churches provide food baskets and other gifts for those in need. Social service organizations, such as the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling, Youth Services System and the Gabriel Project, make sure that the youngest and most vulnerable members of the community receive toys and clothing for Christmas.

Law enforcement officers throughout the Ohio Valley show their concern by providing toys for children living in poverty or who are hospitalized during the holidays. Many officers also foster a positive image by taking youngsters on seasonal shopping sprees.

It’s refreshing to see schoolchildren helping their fellow students or children in neighboring counties by conducting food drives for backpack projects and food pantries. Students and administrators at area colleges and universities also step up to aid residents of their home, or adopted, communities.

One’s faith in the innate goodness of humanity can be bolstered by selfless acts performed by people who also are receiving assistance from local organizations.

For instance, when members of the Wheeling Island Lions Club were unloading a carload of household supplies that the group was donating to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church for its Christmas food baskets, a resident of the neighborhood approached them and offered to help carry items into the church. The woman explained that she receives meals from the free Sunday lunch program that local churches coordinate and serve at St Luke’s every week. Quite simply, she wanted to help those who help her.

After St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church paid off Christmas toy layaway accounts for several Ohio County families again this year, at least one of the recipients decided to “pay it forward” by helping another family that was purchasing toys for their children.

This type of generosity is being extended throughout the community. One often hears of people who, in the midst of good times, remember a holiday when they received much-needed assistance from strangers and now they want to repay that kindness by giving to someone else.

Today may be the “eve” of Christmas Eve, but it’s not too late to help our neighbors — there are still stockings to be filled, baskets to be packed and gifts to be wrapped. And, as social service officials are quick to point out, public generosity will continue to be needed in the new year because people require nourishment throughout the year and they need warm clothing and shelter on cold winter nights.

May we all do our part to make the holidays — and the “ordinary” days to follow — brighter for friends and neighbors. May the joy of the holiday season fill your hearts with love; may your faith be renewed and may your hope be restored. Merry Christmas, dear readers.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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