I stepped over the broken steps, on to the rickety porch and pulled open the screeching screen door. I could hear the loud clicks of the locks on the other side of the old wooden door being unlatched.
The door opened and there stood a small, grey-haired woman, wrapped tightly in a thick sweater held together by large safety pins. She greeted me and fellow Rotarian Bill Cooper with a large smile as if we were beloved family coming for Christmas dinner.
We were in fact delivering her a Christmas basket - a large cardboard box filled with staple foods and a few holiday treats - provided each year by the Bruce Rotary Club.
She invited me inside and asked that I set the box on her table. She held back the blanket, which was nailed over the door to the kitchen, as they were over every door to help retain the heat in the central room of the house.
The kitchen was cold and dark. The only source of heat in the house was an old wood stove in the center of the main room of the very old wooden home.
Cooper and I have been delivering these baskets for more than 10 years now. The delivery is the easy part, where you're greeted by excited, very thankful recipients. The real work is done by Rotarians James Wright, Martha Martin and Velala Langford with Lift, Inc. who lead the effort to put the baskets together, and identify who truly needs them.
Over the years, Cooper and I have delivered baskets to homes with far worse conditions. The depth of poverty that exists in our county and beyond can be astonishing. The Rotary project serves as a great reminder to be thankful for what we all have and the need to reach out to those less fortunate.
Fortunately, we live in a very gracious and giving county. Private donations from all over help offset the costs of these Rotary baskets.
There are many other clubs and organizations in the county that work just as hard to reach out to others in need.
The Fine Arts Club of Bruce adopts a couple of families each year at Christmas to provide them with a more fruitful holiday than they would otherwise experience along with a number of other charities they actively support.
The New Century Club of Calhoun City adopted 20 angels from local angel trees this year to provide Christmas gifts for under privlaged kids. They also are sponsoring a family in Vardaman this Christmas.
The 20th Century Club of Bruce adopted a family of six for Christmas. They also worked to put together Christmas care packages for military servicemen and women overseas.
All of these organizations and many more have worked with Operation Christmas Child. Jimmy Cole, with First Baptist Church in Calhoun City, leads this tremendous effort in the county that compiles well over a 1,000 shoeboxes of goods to be delivered to children throughout the world.
We see the generosity of this county all year with the successes of small fundraisers for the sick, aid provided to victims of a house fire, the impact of our local food pantries and the accomplishments of Relay For Life, Calhoun Cares, Fabric of Hope and so many other charitable events.
While this county suffers from many deficiencies, heart isn't one of them.
Merry Christmas to all.
You may email Joel McNeece at firstname.lastname@example.org