Andrea Howe

Editor, The Daily Clarion

We’ve partnered with readers of The Daily Clarion for about 25 years, pledging to help make Christmas a little brighter for our neighbors in need through the annual Lend A Hand toy and clothing drive.

I confess that every year, I’m nervous about it. I worry that the economy might have been too rough on readers and maybe they won’t be able to help as they have in past years.

I work in a room with a big purple vinyl verse stuck to the wall that reminds me constantly to be still, quit worrying. Psalms 46:10 declares “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s the first thing I see when I enter my office and the last thing I see when I close the door.

I get a good look at the verse every morning because I applied it to some textured wallcovering, and frankly, it doesn’t stick so well. So every morning, I walk over to the wall and press my hands all over that verse to make it stick up on the wall one more day. I mentioned Thursday morning to a coworker that it’s not lost on me how much time I spend laying hands on that verse, pressing on the big “God” word on the wall to get it to stick one more day.

It’s sort of like my life. I have to press in and make those words stick! It’s one thing to see it on the wall, it’s another thing to fully absorb it and let it stick.

And that’s the point I’m getting around to here again this year. Every year, despite all my worrying about whether the program will be success, it works out just fine. Our readers are so generous that I get a little choked up. For a few days, our office was cluttered with brightly colored boxes, bicycles, Barbies, Paw Patrol, Elmo, Elsa, a remote control yellow Mustang and all manner of neat things for dozens of kids.

I crammed all that stuff into my car and made three trips to The Salvation Army, where the gifts were set aside for the families we sponsored. One of those trips was made with the lift gate on my SUV popped up in the air to accommodate the bikes, prompting another motorist to honk at me. I just waived and went on, and the bikes were fine.

My co-workers are great about working around the mess and helping keep track of who brought in what for what family. Our readers are unbelievably generous. And some people, like “sock lady” Donna Burkett, are just a little over the top in their dedication to helping others.

Donna has made giant Christmas stockings for each family for nearly every year we’ve done the project. She chooses items to fit each member of each family for the stockings. This year, I received a call from her and she was just about beside herself. She had some health setbacks and worried that she wouldn’t be able to participate and meet the deadline. “Donna, don’t worry about it,” I told her. “You’ve helped so many years, don’t worry if you can’t do it this year.”

But Donna did do it. She assembled gifts packages from her hospital bed, and her husband made several trips up to the newspaper office to complete her deliveries. The woman is an angel.

All of our partners in the project are angels in my eyes. Several made anonymous contributions. Others shopped and delivered to the newspaper office, treating those families just like they would a member of their own family.

Thanks to the Wallace family, the Rolling Disciples, the Pemberton family, the Lanham family, St. Stephens Community Church, Kim and Mark Armstrong, Gary Whitten, Marlene and Robert Bigham, Darlene Iunghuhn, Jerry Frohbieter, Pete and Donna Swanson and to all the anonymous donors. You’re the best.

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