Even here in the hinterlands we could feel the loss of Paul Newman.
Newman, who died last Friday at age 83, never visited our community that I know of. But his charity made an appearance.
It was four years ago, the pinnacle of publicity for the "It's Spooky to be Hungry" food drive. USA Weekend named Spooky as one of the nation's top 10 "Make a Difference Day" programs, attracting attention to the community-building October drive.
The recognition came with a $10,000 check from Paul Newman's charities for Spooky's parent organization, Big Changes Start Small Inc. (I'm a long-time board member of BCSS.)
Newman's charities are funded through all of the profits from his "Newman's Own" line of foods - to the tune of some $200 million since the program started 25 years ago.
It's amazing that the philanthropic reach was so long that it even touched little Spooky, which started right here in Evans, Ga.
Here's what Spooky's founder, Evelyn Browne, has to say about Newman:
"I so respect the dignified and passionate way he lived his principles, using talent and celebrity to make a real difference. Since Spooky got the Make A Difference recognition I have usually chosen his brand, paying the premium price for Newman products. And the products are excellent, not compromised to make a fast buck based on his name.
"I feel through my small purchases I am helping underwrite, in a very small way, Newman's commitment to making the world a better place. We know firsthand how his charitable efforts can be instrumental in allowing small projects to flourish."
The New York Times last week quoted Newman as saying, "I'm not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out."
Since Newman's grant, Spooky has gone through a transition. Browne has moved to Minnesota, and Golden Harvest Food Bank has taken on oversight of the food drive.
Door-to-door collections for Spooky this year take place in most neighborhoods, including dozens in Columbia County, on Oct. 25. The News-Times also is a collection site for Spooky, with barrels already set up in our lobby for donations.
Drop off some non-perishable food and we'll give you a News-Times magnetic clip, suitable for hanging stuff on your refrigerator.
The real killers
Speaking of refrigerators, most of us probably would do well to keep them closed more often. Not for the energy savings, but to stay out of the food.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is a highly worthy cause, and one that's personal to a great many people.
It's personal to me because the disease took my Aunt Bobbie. Her memory for me includes the pain a lot of people go through in the fight against breast cancer.
But I can't help but hope that focusing so much on this disease doesn't cause us to forget that the leading cause of death among women is not breast cancer. In fact, breast cancer isn't even the leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
The No. 1 killer of women (and men) is heart disease, much of it self-inflicted through bad diet and little exercise. The cancer with the highest death toll is still lung cancer - much of it the result of smoking, which also can contribute to heart disease.
This is especially worrisome with some reports showing that smoking is increasing among women, even as breast cancer rates and deaths have shown a decline.
It won't do us much good to cure the No. 3 killer if we help the two worst killers pick up the slack.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com
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