Help us share our blessings this new year
As we close out another year after a season of rejoicing and giving and enter a new year and a new decade, it is a good time to reflect on all of the blessings we in Sumter receive every day. Living in a place like Sumter is itself a blessing. Yet, just as all communities, we have people who are in need of help living in our midst.
Sumter is blessed with many citizens who connect with our neighbors in need through our many wonderful churches and other organizations and provide hope and help to those who are struggling, but we need more volunteers and more contributions.
Sumter is a community with many men and women of strong religious faith. So we believe that we are to be servants and to assist those experiencing tough times. We may not believe that service to others comes naturally, but I know that, once you have helped someone—become a servant—you experience a feeling that makes you feel good. I believe that is because we have been created to live with meaning and purpose.
I ask that our churches and each of us individually look for ways to serve those among us, who might be called “the least of these”. Yes, there are people in Sumter who are hungry and who lack adequate clothing. There are people living in substandard dwellings. There are children who depend upon their schools for food and go hungry other times. There are so many opportunities for meaningful service.
I urge every Sumterite to find the “thing” that motivates you to serve others in our community. Here are some suggestions you may want to consider.
- Find a local organization that has experience and has learned best practices in helping people. Creating duplicate services or going it on your own, may not meet the need effectively. For instance, we have organizations that are good at serving the homeless. Others are great at helping women through unexpected pregnancies; working with victims of domestic violence; fire victims; providing utility assistance, food, or clothing; helping people re-entering the community after incarceration; medical assistance and so much more.
- Contact the organization and ask what they need and the hours they are open.
- Volunteering is a universal way to help human services organizations. Not everyone has money to donate. However, offering your time and skills is immeasurably valuable. You might think, “What can I do?” You can do a lot! Not everyone is a skilled builder, a business professional or a counselor, but if you are someone who genuinely loves and cares about people, that is a great quality for a volunteer. Most organizations are always training new volunteers. Your desire and willingness to learn is all you need.
- Your time may be in short supply at the moment and volunteering might be out of the question. However, perhaps your business or place of employment would like to offer the use their facility to collect a needed item or start a fund that can collect donations and channel them to your favorite charity. The location may be ideal for a satellite donation point. Human services organizations are also grateful for assistance with goods or services offered free or at a reduced rate.
- Lastly, financial donations are always needed and appreciated. Organizations have staff in place to coordinate large numbers of volunteers. They provide their services every day, all year. If they do not have the resources to pay employees and for other necessities, the needy in Sumter will suffer.
As I have said, we are blessed in Sumter in so many ways, individually and as a community. As we enter 2020 and this new decade, please commit to share your blessings with your neighbors who are in need. Give to a cause of your choice; encourage your church or other group to get involved; and actually volunteer your services to a helping organization.
Happy New Year!
Mayor Joe McElveen