The small community in which I live is still reeling from tragic news about a murder a few days ago. To make matters worse, a young woman then played a hoax on local law enforcement, faking a situation in which police were called in from different towns, search dogs were brought in, and police helicopters were flying overhead. It is very unnerving when you are led to believe that armed criminals are on the loose in your neighborhood and being looked for, especially at night.
I had stayed up half the night, too afraid to go to sleep. I kept my ears glued to the police scanner while I kept up conversation with locals on a community Facebook page.
Someone joked on the Facebook page that we all needed to meet in person and have a beer when it was all over. We didn't do so, but small meet-and-greet events have been put together in the past. A local businessman set things in motion last year with bringing the community together, and now several other small business owners have chimed in. We've met for tacos at local restaurants, there's now a weekly evening get-together over milkshakes at a local confectionery, and there's been different fundraisers and drives throughout the past year.
It doesn't take much to help others less fortunate than yourself, especially in your own community. We are not wealthy by any means, but it doesn't take a lot of money to help others. Food pantries always need donations. Go through your cupboards and pantry and donate some extra food. Or, each time you go grocery shopping, pick up a few extra staples and stash them away until you have a few bags to donate. If your community has a holiday clothing and coat drive (which mine did last year), clean out your closets. You could even pick up an extra coat or two at a thrift shop. Again, you don't have to have or spend a lot of money to help! An animal shelter in a nearby town lists their current needs on their web site. It only adds a few dollars to your grocery bill to buy a bottle of bleach and some paper towels. You could spend more money than that on a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Last month, the local businessman I mentioned above coordinated a school supply donation drive. As I did my normal shopping, I picked up crayons, pencils, markers, notebook paper, folders and index cards. My cost was $10 and a few minutes of my time. Volunteers then put together donated backpacks full of school supplies for local kids.
My husband and I have also recently picked up extra corn and peaches at the farm stand and delivered them to a widow in our community who doesn't have a car. People had been posting on the community Facebook page about the delicious corn that was ready at farm stands and this woman had said how she'd love some corn, but didn't have a way of getting any. Again, only a few minutes of our time and a few dollars. What I got in return was the privilege of meeting a lovely human being, getting a big hug, and a lot of gratitude. You can't put a price on that.
Just today, a young woman in our community took the courage to ask for help on the Facebook page. She and her young daughter were hungry. I won't get into the particulars of her circumstances, but another woman offered to buy the young woman some groceries and deliver them to her. (The young woman also does not have a car.) That got the ball rolling, and several other people had said they would help - including myself. I went through my pantry, cabinets and refrigerator and came up with two bags full of groceries that I could part with.
I am feeling thankful and proud to be part of such a caring community. I truly believe that what comes around, goes around. And that in blessing others, we will be blessed. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa: "We can do no great things; just small things with great love."
Have a beautiful and safe weekend!