Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
He may have uttered that quote decades ago, but it rang so very true in our corner of the world during 2013.
While we usually associate the tradition of giving to Christmas time, the past 365 days have shown giving isn’t limited to a specific date on a calendar.
Greater Trail has always risen to the challenge of supporting worthy causes that help fellow human beings. Fundraising events like the Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign, Light up the Hospitals and the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign or community-inspired support systems like the United Way, Skool-Aid and KidSport have always hoped for and received generous community response.
But 2013 brought even more evidence of the generosity people have in our region – a region blessed with relatively steady employment, affordable housing and a lifestyle that blends nature’s beauty with the ability to live well within our means.
And perhaps it’s those qualities that allow to support many worthy campaigns and help people in need.
Last month, there was an outpouring of support for the West Kootenay Filipino community following the devastating typhoon that swept through their homeland on Nov. 8.
No sooner had a call gone out for help to support families in the Philippines, that the phone started ringing at Siony Thompson’s house.
“I couldn’t believe it, right away I had a $100 donation from person in Trail,” she explained. “She is wheelchair bound and couldn’t get to my home so I went and picked it up.”
Following the group’s fundraiser in Genelle earlier this month, they had raised over $3,000.
“I am so overwhelmed and happy with all the support I feel like crying,” she said. “The money we raised will help to feed the families we know and maybe they can start rebuilding their homes.”
While local residents were happy to help people suffering on the other side of the globe, they also responded to help our neighbours in Alberta when struck by devastating flooding in July.
John Howell, wife Teresa and daughter Trina felt a call to duty and rented a 53-foot trailer to park outside their Glenmerry home in hopes of filling it with household goods and non-perishable food items to send to flood-affected areas.
The response from the West Kootenay communities not only filled one trailer but a total of four with goods for the hardest hit areas.
“Not only would I do it again, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” said Trina Howell. “The response of the community was overwhelming and it was an emotional and touching experience. It was more work than we expected but everyone who helped out said it was worth it.”
Not all charitable calls to action involved large-scale disasters like the Philippines or Alberta.
The Trail Times wrote a story about Kate’s Kitchen losing $1,000 worth of food when one of its freezers quit working.
In response to the predicament, four new freezers have been donated to the local Salvation Army soup kitchen along with meat, poultry and fish, and $400 cash to replace the spoiled goods.
Linda Radtke, manager at the Rossland Avenue locale, said the phone started ringing right away with offers of help.
“It bring tears to my eyes when a community bands together to help when something like this happens,” said Radtke. “It makes me proud to say that I live in Trail. People have just been so good to us.”
Over the course of the last few months, the locked out FortisBC workers responded to generous gestures of support from the community by chopping wood for the local scouts or anyone needing a hand.
It’s that kind of spirit that makes the moniker “Home of Champions,” all that much more meaningful.
And while citizens are eager to open their wallets the minute someone needs help, their generous spirit over time has helped improve everyone’s life.
In February, the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) Health Foundation reached its goal of raising funds to replace its 11-year-old film mammography machine with a digital mammography with stereotactic capabilities.
A mammography exam is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women, a process that is expedited with digital equipment.
Since May 2011, the health foundation has received widespread support for its campaign, and had hoped to reach its $950,000 goal by May of this year. They hit the goal a couple of months early.
So when you unwrap your Christmas presents this week and survey the bounty that many receive, remember that you are one of many who gave, regardless of the date, regardless of who was on the receiving end, and simply gave to make someone else’s life better.
That, as the opening quote suggests, is what really makes our own lives better. Is there really a better gift?
Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times.