Editorial: Unsung heroes in the season of giving

  • Rian Farrell, 4, front, and Sofia Ruggeri, 6, put in their raffle tickets for a tree during the second annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Franklin County Rotary and Greenfield Kiwanis on Dec. 16 at Yankee Candle. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

Saturday, December 23, 2017

This long weekend, as we wind up another holiday season with the observance of Christmas on Monday, we should also celebrate many acts of charity and selflessness by a wide range of individuals, service clubs, churches, schools and other organizations that spring up just for the holiday.

A few are acknowledged in the pages of this paper, but many, many more quietly go about offering help and comfort to the poor and needy among us without a thought to recognition. Those people should have a special place in our hearts.

Other larger endeavors are better known, like the Salvation Army, whether collecting money through its traditional kettle drive in Greenfield or collecting hundreds of coats in Athol.

This year for the second time, the Franklin County Rotary Club and the Greenfield Kiwanis Club sponsored a Festival of Trees at the Yankee Candle Village. Featuring more than 60 decorated trees that were sponsored by local businesses, civic and social organizations, individuals and families, the event raised $18,954, proceeds of which were divided between Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter.

The Elks lodges in Greenfield and Montague spent time and money to ensure that dozens of needy families had a traditional turkey or ham dinner for the holiday. The Greenfield Elks, for example, delivered 45 meal baskets, something they have been doing for 60 years. The deliveries may mean a lot to the families, but Elk Tim Herzig noted they also mean a lot to the Elks, who get more in the process of giving.

The Franklin County Adopt-A-Family program has been around for about 40 years, pairing the generous with the deserving, and the all-volunteer effort did the same this year.

“It’s very hard for a family who can’t provide for their family around Christmas,” Simmone Coderre of Deerfield noted this year as she volunteered with her son David at Holy Family Catholic Church, preparing packages of gifts from parishioners for anonymous recipients. Annually, the charity matches sponsors with about 200 needy families selected by various social service agencies. Sponsors purchase gifts based on wish lists created by the families. Coderre’s parish sponsors a dozen families every year.

The church also puts up and decorates a “giving tree” that serves as a centralized place where parishioners hang items like gift cards. Others take them off as needed.

This is just a variation on a theme felt throughout Franklin County and the North Quabbin region in this time of giving. While the holiday has become heavily commercialized over the years, we hope that Christianity’s golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated will be applied by everyone — regardless of belief or faith tradition — in keeping with an ancient message of giving and concern for our fellow man without the expectation of receiving anything in return.