Community shows its heart this Christmas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Natchez has a unique personality, known in some circles for its divisiveness, known in others for its hospitality.

This Christmas, we at The Democrat think we&8217;ve seen our community&8217;s heart.

A series of articles published throughout the month of December has highlighted the Christmas wish lists of several non-profits throughout the area.

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Many, like the Children&8217;s Christmas Tree Fund, are strictly holiday events.

Others, though, need help throughout the year.

The very day our first story ran &8212; about the Christmas Tree Fund founded by a former Democrat publisher &8212; fund director Katherine Killelea received two donations from folks who had read the article.

Later in the month, the Sunshine Shelter received a call with an offer to donate a DVD player &8212; and that&8217;s despite the fact that a typographical error had us publish the wrong phone number for the shelter, which provides a temporary home for abused and neglected children. (For the record, that phone number is 445-2223.)

We heard other stories of success. The Concordia Christmas Charity Fund was able to help more people than ever this year. We hope our article about the fund helped boost those numbers a bit.

We also received this thank you letter from Louis Gunning, the director of the Stewpot, which delivers meals to shut-ins and provides meals in-house every day &8212; including today:

&8220;You should feel good and full of pride for spearheading the &8216;wish list&8217; articles in The Democrat.

&8220;I&8217;m hearing that all local charities have benefited. Your article on Stewpot was excellent; the response has been beyond expectations.

&8220;Stewpot has received enough food donations to fill our storage space.

&8220;We received enough money to pay off our debts and have enough for operation well into 2004.

&8220;I now appreciate the power of the local press. Thank you so much.&8221;

That letter, among the kindest I&8217;ve ever received, reminded me about the power of the press as well.

But it wasn&8217;t our articles that made the difference; we were simply the means to provide the information.

What made the difference was the generosity and kindness of our community.

Even during hard times, we are a community willing to give of ourselves and help each those who need a hand, for whatever reason.

That should tell us something about our friends and neighbors even the strangers we see every day.

We should note that most of these organizations will need help throughout the year; we hope you will keep organizations like the Stewpot and the Humane Society and the Salvation Army in mind in March or July or October.

And these organizations don&8217;t just need money; they need volunteers to read to children or deliver meals to shut-ins or teach computer classes to senior citizens.

We all have something to give, no matter how large or small, and this holiday season has shown us just how big our community&8217;s heart can be.

Merry Christmas to all.

Kerry Whipple

is editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at kerry.whipple@