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The Helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers (more commonly known as Mister Rogers)

A colleague of mine shared the above stated quote on Facebook in the wake of the recent and senseless tragedies in Connecticut. While it didn’t alleviate my frustrations with this unfathomable challenge facing our country, it does provide a light and a reminder that the good and the great across our nation still outweigh the negative and the evil. While we can’t change what happened in Connecticut, perhaps our reaction can take our country in a new and better direction. I love the challenge Ann Curry made to Americans, and others, to carry out 26 acts of kindness in memory of those senselessly lost.

A program here in Newcastle devotes a great deal of time and energy to ensuring our young people in need have the items they need and a good Christmas. Operation Santa is a project of Newcastle Elementary School third graders. They launch their project by raising the money to purchase Christmas gifts for less fortunate children. Through a raffle, a school-wide bake sale and donation jars in businesses across the area, funds are gathered. Much of the money raised comes in at less than a dollar at a time, displaying to the third graders that everybody giving a little can equate to a lot.

Once the money is collected, each student is assigned someone for whom to shop. Using the money he earned, Joshua had the opportunity to buy jeans and shirts for a four-year-old little boy, items he said the boy truly needed. It was the talk of our house for two days as he anticipated the outing and wrapping presents with his fellow students. The project helped his young mind get a stronger grip on the true meaning of Christmas and the joy in helping others.

Helping hands are easy to spot this time of year. While visiting Cameco Resources in Cheyenne earlier this week I saw a large boardroom circled with tables that were completely covered with toys. The employees were planning a get together to wrap and deliver the toys to Cheyenne youth on Friday. There are giving trees in numerous locations, Toys for Tots drop-offs and food drives taking place. Over the past week I know I’ve taken greater notice of these efforts and the people making it happen.

Whether it’s the adults behind Operation Santa or others helping in our communities, now is a good time to tell them thank you. This Christmas let’s remember to thank our local blessings, the people who devote a great deal of time and energy to making life a little better for those around them. This happens in many ways, and I’m particularly thankful for those who have a positive presence amidst our young people. Whether it’s a teacher, a coach, a special aunt or uncle or someone who brings them new opportunity through some level of giving, they’re making a positive difference. As we embark on 2013 I pray we can celebrate the positive and shine the light on those everyday heroes who matter. I hope the sun shines through the dark cloud hanging over our nation and we come together to celebrate family values, kindness and a more forgiving world.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best 2013 can bring to you and your families!

Jennifer Vineyard Womack is executive director of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and a freelance writer. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 307-351-0730.