Helping our neighbors in a hometown way

Posted 12/6/18

In “The City With Spirit” and the county that is “Tennessee at its Best,” Cleveland and Bradley County residents share a common cause: They help when help is needed.More times than not, they …

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Helping our neighbors in a hometown way

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In “The City With Spirit” and the county that is “Tennessee at its Best,” Cleveland and Bradley County residents share a common cause: They help when help is needed.

More times than not, they do it without being asked. The key is to keep them informed about those who are living with little, or without, whether it is Christmastime or an everyday time from January through December.

Wishing that “… every day could be just like Christmas,” a lyric given voice by artists like Elvis Presley, might be a stretch. Yet, it can be a goal. After all, it has nothing to do with giving a material gift. It has everything to do with living the spirit of Christmas.

Yes, it is a wish. But when enough people wish it, who knows the rewards that lie ahead?

Be that as it may, it is Christmastime, inarguably the most joyous time of the year and there are many in our community working to spread its message to those willing to hear and equally as willing to receive.

Christmas is a spiritual time, and a time for looking out for others … especially those who life has seemingly left behind.

It is why good people stand behind good initiatives like the Empty Stocking Fund and the William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund.

We have written of both many times. We will write of both many more.

Their presence speaks of a moral conscience, a common voice among common people whose greatest cause is the cause of others.

For those wishing to assist either Christmas drive, it is not too late. Ironically, like in past years, the end-result for both occurs on the same blessed Saturday just days ahead of Christmas Eve.

On Dec. 15, the Empty Stocking Fund will host its magnificent Cleveland Christmas Party for Children. Hosted by Ocoee Middle School, the event will allow more than 1,000 children in need to enjoy a giant party in one school gymnasium, while their parents or guardians are receiving wrapped gifts from volunteers in an adjacent gym. Those gifts will be placed under family trees where they will be enjoyed by local youngsters on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

Also, on Dec. 15, volunteers will gather at Tri-State Warehouse to distribute — and in some cases, personally deliver — more than 600 food baskets as part of the annual William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund to families who live with little, or without. Its intent is to grace their days on this earth with a Christmas meal, and whose staple of foods will curb hunger for a few days more.

The Empty Stock Fund nurtures our children. The William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund nurtures our families.

Both are heartfelt initiatives, the likes of which define the size of heart of any community whose humanitarian outreach comes from within.

Here’s how you can help.

• Empty Stocking Fund: 1) Make in-person donations to any remaining live WCLE My Mix 104.1 remote broadcasts; 2) Mail donations to Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 2370, Cleveland, TN 37320; or 3) Go online to www.emptystocking.org  and make your donation electronically.

• William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund: 1) Mail donations to First Tennessee Bank, P.O. Box 4880, Cleveland, TN 37320-4880; 2) Drop off donations in person to First Tennessee Bank at 3870 Keith St.; 3) Drop off donations to Cooke’s Food Store at 3400 Keith St. NW; or 4) Drop off donations to the United Way of Ocoee Region office at 85 Ocoee St. SE.

Contributions to both will continue to be accepted beyond the Dec. 15 events.

Two important reminders regarding the Empty Stocking Fund: Don’t miss tonight’s jailing of the Grinch and WCLE owner Steve Hartline in the parking lot of Don Ledford Automotive Center. It’s happening from 6 to 8 p.m., and its hilarity will raise money toward the Empty Stocking Fund.

Also, the Empty Stocking Fund’s Grand Finale will be hosted Friday by Life Care Centers of America, from 6 to 10 a.m. Lots of inspiring Christmas music by four school choirs, plenty of radio chat between broadcasters and donors, and what is hoped will be a celebration of a goal reached: $100,001 in donations.

Both drives epitomize the heart of our community.

We urge those who can give to give. No donation is too small. Every donation will go toward bringing some hometown love into the hearts and minds of our hometown neighbors.

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