Tis that time of the year, a thoughtful, caring season
Dec. 24, 2000
Traditionally at The Star, like many other companies, we draw names and give gifts to each other. This year we broke tradition and my guess is we started a new and more meaningful one.
Helping a needy family
Before we were to draw for names, it was suggested that instead of each of us getting some small gift for one another we give the money we would spend on the gifts to a needy family. We had located a family that had lost everything in a recent fire, losing all but the clothes on their backs.
Before you knew it, people were donating three, four, five times the amount of money we had originally set as the "gift" amount for each other. In a matter of days people here at The Star had donated food, clothing and furniture … as well as cash to use for whatever it would take to bring a bit of normalcy to this unfortunate family.
I learned that when you lose everything, even the smallest items are treasures.
Advertisers helped, too
Later, as our advertising reps were talking to their customers about the family we had adopted, they found advertisers wanted to help, too. Carpet Mart Plus and Anders Furniture donated beds, McAllister's donated a TV and Ft. James donated paper products. Marvin's donated a Christmas tree and Little Acre donated lights and ornaments for the tree.
The enthusiasm for giving was extraordinary.
Within a few days, members of this family in desperate need of everything were getting back on their feet. With donations continuing to pour in from our employees and our family of advertising customers, some employees went looking for another family to help.
Again, a family was located that needed assistance and the giving started anew. Judge Little's donated shoes for the mother and even monogrammed Christmas stockings for the kids. One child also had a birthday and Winn Dixie donated a birthday cake. Toys, food, and household items were taken to the family. They, too, were able to get back on their feet.
Proud of our employees
I tell you all this not to say that the employees at The Star did something so different from others who have given so generously during this holiday season. Our efforts probably pale in comparison to what others do.
But I tell you this story simply to say how proud I am of the people with whom I work. It has been a long and grueling year, especially with the sale of the paper and the transition. It has been a year of uncertainty for most and yet they hung in there and did their work and put the paper on the street every day under less than ideal conditions.
And when lesser folk would have been saying, "Hey, it's Christmas … what's in it for me?," they chose to think of others and not of themselves.
They've shown me first hand that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. They've also shown an unselfish character and a very human side that most readers never see. These are the people who chronicle our community … who work to make a public record of who we are and what we are all about.
I just thought you might like to know where their hearts and minds are as they go about that work.
Paul Barrett is publisher of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.