By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
I had a couple of free hours (sort of) yesterday, so I decided to sneak in some Christmas baking. One of the aspects about the holidays that I really enjoy, baking gets me in the holiday spirit and I don’t find enough time to do it these days. Christmas music blaring in the background, flour flying everywhere, my thoughts drifted to the true spirit of Christmas – giving.
Yes, the arrival of the holiday season often brings thoughts of sharing, caring, and of giving to those who are less fortunate. According to the Bible, “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” and as Americans, we count our blessings and are often moved to give. We give gifts to our members of our family, to our friends and whenever possible, we give to our communities.
TV commercials for St. Jude Research Hospital remind us that money is needed for more research to save our children, Salvation Army bell-ringers greet us as we scurry into various stores and we drop a few dollars into the kettle. I receive what seems like dozens of emails each week announcing the efforts of various local organizations and businesses, which are sponsoring all kinds of projects to assist those who are in need at this time of year. Multitudes of volunteers work tirelessly for months prior to the start of the holiday season so that no one will go without during Christmas.
Last week, I wrote a story about the Collin County Committee on Aging and their Secret Santa project. Volunteers work for months organizing the project, which delivers Christmas gifts to senior citizens who are in need. Community Lifeline Center will be, thanks to volunteers from the community, providing Christmas gifts to families in the Collin County area who otherwise would not be able to afford Christmas.
Toys donated by caring members of our community are stacked high around the Christmas tree that beautifully stands in the front of Rick’s Chop House. They will be given to the Samaritan Inn, Collin County’s only homeless shelter. Our local churches sponsor “Angel Trees,” where church members select choose a family or an individual in our community
On average, approximately one quarter of charitable giving occurs during the holiday season, and certainly our city steps up to the plate and does it’s part. I can tell you first hand, that we live in a very caring city.
This year, McKinney was selected by Money Magazine as the No. 2 best place to live out of their 100 best places to live in America list. Among the reasons our fair city was chosen were economic strength, excellent health care, great schools and low crime rate. As Money Magazine puts it, another aspect that was considering when making their selections was “assessing what the numbers can’t tell you –whether a town is a true community.”
We excel at being a true community – at caring for each other. That’s what makes us great. I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times during my 22 years in McKinney. I’ve seen residents come to the rescue of their friends who are dealing the profound shock and grief associated with the death of a loved one. Dinners are delivered to friends who have a new baby in the family, giving mom some much needed help as she adjusts to having a new member of the family.
When the horrific Truett Street murders took place in 2004, McKinney stepped up. We grieved together. We donated money to help the families with funeral expenses. Church volunteers prepared and served food for hundreds following the four funerals. Families donated funds to the scholarship funds that were established to honor Matt Self and Austin York. That was true community.
Although I won’t share their names in order to protect their privacy, I’ve participated in numerous efforts to reach out and support families who have had a loved one fighting a battle with cancer. We arm ourselves with casseroles, books or cash and give of ourselves if a friend needs a ride to chemotherapy or needs a visit to bring a little cheer. We set up charity events to raise funds for those who are experiencing the financial hardships brought about by dealing with a catastrophic illness.
Personally, I have recently felt the warmth and compassion of members of our community when after writing about my son’s struggles with depression I received many messages of encouragement. Those messages make a difference. Words of kindness and encouragement convey support.
McKinney citizens practice random acts of kindness the whole year through. Individuals tirelessly give of their time, talents and financial resources in order to make our community better. Their generosity comes from a desire to help, to build relationships and not from a place of the desire for personal gain. We build Habitat homes, we raise money for children, we help the homeless, we are there for friends and family.
In my book, McKinney citizens, we are the number one best place to live because of your caring and your sharing! You practice generosity without exception.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
– Sir Winston Churchill