The horrors of Newtown, Conn., last week have given our national mood a somber tone as we enter the peak of the holiday season.
We would be remiss, however, to allow the murder of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School to blind us to all the good happening at Christmas right here in our community on behalf of children and families. Here are some recent examples:
• The Santa Wheels program last week donated more than 150 bicycles to local needy children.
The brainchild of George Sleister, retired general manager of Master Buick GMC in Martinez, Santa Wheels is elegantly simple: The effort collects donated bicycles, uses both volunteer labor and workers being trained by Goodwill Industries to refurbish them, and donates the bikes to children who otherwise wouldn’t get one at Christmas.
Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse provides expertise for the Goodwill workers and supplies parts for fixing up the bikes. “We have always wanted to do something to better the community,” says Drew Jordan, “and this was a natural fit for us.”
• Shop with a Doc, created by Dr. Joseph Mullins at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, provides a Christmas shopping trip for pediatric burn patients.
The children, with support from the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, are treated to limo rides, dinner and a shopping trip at Target in Mullins Crossing.
“It is gratifying to see those sick, unhappy children so happy and running around after the toys,” said Dr. Zaheed Hassan, a burn center surgeon. “Just like you’d like to see your own child.”
• Day with a Deputy, held this past Saturday at the Evans Walmart, is an annual event with a twofold purpose: Provide Christmas cheer for underprivileged children, while allowing them to spend positive time with law enforcement personnel.
The toys are a big deal for the kids, but there is little doubt that interaction with deputies from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office makes a lasting impression on the children – and all for the better.
But the happy-factor is pretty big, too.
“It’s just the smile on their faces, because some of these kids are not going to have a Christmas,” says Capt. Clay Smith. “For us to be able to provide that and see the smile on their faces is all I need.”
That’s the sort of thing we all need right now. Good, ultimately, will triumph over evil – especially if the good people in any community are determined to make it happen.