This past weekend my thoughtful granddaughter, Katie, cut 10 inches off her lovely auburn hair in honor of Ethan McClary and the Locks of Love Program. Locks of Love is a non profit organization that provides hair pieces for children in the United States under 21 that suffer from long term medical hair loss. Ethan is a second grader at Williamsburg Academy battling Leukemia and is being encouraged by the community and the school in a variety of ways. For instance, the school donated an I-pad to Ethan which allows his classmates to have contact with him on a regular basis and the Interact club has sponsored a “hat” fundraiser. Several creative girls made bracelets to sell at football games for “Team Ethan” while parents in the second grade class recently organized and held 2 fund raisers. As early as this summer children at the Williamsburg Presbyterian Bible School donated funds in Ethan’s behalf. Several resourceful girls at Bible School even made their own money to donate by selling lemonade. Regardless of what is done for this little boy, Ethan is not the only one who is benefiting from living in this community. Stories like Ethan’s is why each time local citizens voice concerns, criticisms, or complaints about our area, I just think: say what you will, but Williamsburg County is still a great place to live. No doubt, debate is good, but sometimes our community appears to focus more on problems rather than concentrate on the positives. There are many deeds of kindness that take place each day in this county; allow me to share a few specific examples.
Seven months ago, our community was riveted by the tragic death of Sonya Burgess. It’s hard to remember when a local death affected and touched so many people. Citizens of all walks of life throughout the community and state mourned the passing of the young wife and mother. I did not know Sonya Burgess, but have known the Burgess Family for years through the 4-H Program. They are good people and a very close family. A few weeks following the tragedy, I saw Mr. Burgess (Mac) and during our conversation, he said the following. “Our family has always tried to do the right thing for this community. But, we have been amazed at how much kindness and goodness was returned to us through this sad event. It has just been overwhelming how the entire community has been there for us. We are very thankful.”
Eight weeks ago, Tammy Erwin sent me a text at 2:30 in the morning about the fire at Holt’s Jewelry Store. Since that time, this community has expressed their concern for the Holts with the loss of their business and the Kellahans in the loss of their property. During conversations with Mary Jean, she kept saying she and Carol could not begin to convey everything that people had done for them during the past weeks. She explained that how the morning of the fire while they were still downtown, people were bringing food to her house. In addition, friends and acquaintances have sent cards, flowers, called and visited. Mary Jean said that it gave her strength to deal with the tragedy just knowing that local people cared so much. In addition, her children were surprised at the outpouring of love and concern over a business fire. The Holt family said “There are just not enough good things to say about life in a small town.”
Last week, the community came together one more time to console friends who lost their home in a devastating fire. Immediately following the Martin’s house fire, friends took them in and offered clothing and comfort. A good friend of Mrs. Martins said that as news got out about the fire, people came to offer supplies and support. In no time, friends provided a place to live, food, and other necessities of life. It was said that provisions were provided before Pasty could even think about things she might need. The Martins have been touched by the graciousness of the community.
The goodness of the community has even touched my family for as I write this column my daddy is very ill in a hospital in Florence. We too have experienced the kindness of those visiting, sending food, and caring. It really does not matter who you are, at some point you will experience the thoughtfulness of this community.
Perhaps Mr. Burgess was right when he said that when you do for others in a community, goodness will always be returned to you. So, you can say what you will about Williamsburg County, but there is no place I would rather be in times of trouble. I think this quote by Desmond Tutu sums it up: “Do your little bit of good where you are; its those bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”