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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

Community's generosity sets it apart

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Every local politician has uttered at least one true statement during their time in office.

Most likely, in some form, office-holders of every era have said this area's best asset is its people.

No matter what challenges have come our way, the one constant strength has been the people who call this community home.

Blytheville was recently honored as one of only 12 communities around the state to earn the 2012 Arkansas Volunteer Community of the Year Award.

Others included Benton, Bentonville, Clarksville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Maumelle, Mountain Home, Norfork, Van Buren and Warren.

That's pretty impressive and pretty good company to keep, I think most would agree.

It's a well-deserved honor when considering the countless volunteer hours put in by residents for efforts like the Great River Charitable Clinic, Ignite, the Blytheville/Gosnell Area Food Pantry, Healing in the Hood, the United Way, abuse shelters, drug rehab programs, Red Cross, local youth sports, Cleaner, Safer Blytheville, the Chamber's BLI projects, ministry work, literacy programs, health fairs, Relay for Life. There's an endless list of benevolent agencies and ways residents contribute their time, talent and cash to help their fellow man. Local banks and industries seem to always have some charitable program at work, particularly during the holiday season.

"Blytheville is great because of its people," Blytheville Mayor James Sanders said recently. "The thing about it is, the population here has been unsung heroes for so many years in the things that they do."

As the holiday season starts to gear up, no doubt local residents will be contributing in some fashion to worthy causes, just as they have so generously in the past.

Ignite's Boxes of Love and various other local food and toy drives have become a staple of the holiday season.

Last year, Ignite provided Boxes of Love to more than 800 families, giving out 2,000 toys. In total, it served around 3,500 local individuals. A box contains enough non-perishable food items to sustain a family of four for up to a week, and comes with an additional box of personal hygiene items. Each box, provided by Feed the Children, costs $20. Residents have until the first of December to contribute, and distribution of the food and toys will take place at the Blytheville School District's service center on Dec. 15.

Along with the organized toy drives, undoubtedly, there will be individuals doing charitable work on their own. A couple of Christmases ago, a local businessman, wishing to remain anonymous, provided Christmas for a less fortunate young man he had read about. He didn't even know the young man, but wanted the boy to have a special Christmas.

I remember one Christmas season when a woman, tending to a child and a gift to be mailed off, sold me her stamps in a long line at the post office so I didn't have to wait.

Maybe that doesn't seem like a gesture worthy of Page 1, but she epitomizes the kind of caring people who live here.

A week from today, a group will be prepared to feed 1,000 people a free Thanksgiving meal. The project, which grows every year, is organized by Aaron Brassfield, outreach coordinator at Gospel Lighthouse.

What's great, folks here will help their neighbor clear an alley, waive to each passing car on a morning walk and combine resources to provide memorable moments for those down on their luck.

This is truly a generous community we call home.

mbrasfield@couriernews.net

Mark Brasfield
Mark Brasfield is managing editor for the Courier News.
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