Rallying together

By Vivian Collings

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “the elephant in the county” in an editorial. The elephant is poverty, homelessness.
I was very discouraged at the time.
My coworker, James Matthews, also wrote his editorial about poverty last week.
I know that he was disheartened, too.
He highlighted the stark number of first-time visitors to food banks this year. People who have full time jobs. Working families who have to choose between buying gas for their car to get to work and food for dinner.
How could we be blindly go about our days, attending other events, shopping for pleasure, and comfortably watching TV at home while a quarter of our local kids have empty bellies?
I regrettably felt a bit of resentment for our community that I love so much.
I also felt pretty ashamed, myself. I was generalizing; how could we selfishly ignore others in need? How could we all be allowing things like that to happen right in front of us?
I thought that people in the community weren’t there for each other.
That bitterness has been cut in the past few weeks with so many acts of generosity.
Wow, do we ever know how to step up and give during this season that can be tough for so many.
There’s no way to possibly recognize each person, organization, or family that has given something to help others so far this month.
I may even go so far as to say that everyone has given something to make another’s day a little brighter.
Over $33,000 was raised for Heat Bank Haliburton County at their recent fundraiser, and volunteers just helped stack firewood this past Sunday. Similarly, $33,000 was raised at this year’s Highlands Christmas Shindig for Fuel for Warmth. I can only imagine how many families this money will help keep warm this winter.
The Haliburton Highlands OPP auxiliary just held their Fill a Cruiser program where they were stationed at local grocery stores to fill up police vehicles with food to donate to our food banks.
The Dysart Fire Department collected toys at Todd’s Independent this past Saturday to give to local children and food to donate to the food bank. They filled one of their fire trucks.
Laughter filled Royal Canadian Legion Branch 129 and the AJ LaRue Arena during Haliburton Rotary’s annual Christmas and Skating Party on Dec. 2. They gave away free turkeys, gift bags for kids, and a pizza dinner. Joy was given to kids who got to visit Santa during the occasion.
The Highlands Wind Symphony and Highlands Swing Band held their first concert in three years last Sunday. They filled Lakeside Baptist Church with music and proceeds from the concert will be donated to Haliburton County food banks.
The community gave the gift of support in a different way to the families and friends of both Curry Bishop and Mike Iles during their memorials.
Wendy Iles said about 450 people went through the firehall to see her and her family. 450 shoulders to lean on. That makes my eyes water.
As Emily Stonehouse said in her last County Life editorial, we can all do something to add some light to someone else’s life, whether it be monetary donations, donations of time, kind words, or a listening ear.
Big problems will not be changed in one holiday season, but everything is made easier when we’re in it together.
I think we’re all very aware of our community’s need for help. Let’s keep up that awareness.