Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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HELP THEM HELP OTHERS
I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone, folks. Looking at the calendar, I find myself shocked to be looking at Christmas being only 4 weeks away. I don’t know about you, but in a year of political turmoil, massive oilfield layoffs, and a small recessionary period, I, for one, won’t be sorry to see this year come to an end. I look forward to the promise of a much brighter 2016. But until things brighten up, we still have this Christmas and the remainder of the year to endure. And with that endurance, comes some challenges we should keep in mind.
Airdrie and its close neighbours such as Crossfield and Irricana, have always managed to hold tight and strong through economic adversity. We’re strong in our support of our schools, our social programs, and our foodbank. We can always be stronger, but for the most part, when trouble brews, we pull together. It’s part of the culture embedded within our community and encourages us all to be proud to wear our hearts on our sleeves. It is our compassion that makes us strong and it is our willingness to act on that compassion that makes us resilient to much of the hardship that other communities must face. Unfortunately, sometimes the will to act is blocked by circumstances beyond our control.
I was chatting with a few local business owners last week and heard, for the first time in a long time, fear. 2015 has not been kind to many businesses this year. It’s not that they don’t provide great services or products. It’s more because of economic circumstances beyond their control. People aren’t eating out as much. They are refraining from spending money unless it is for necessities. They are refraining from buying as many clothes or having their hair done as often. Even the local barbers say that clients they are used to seeing every three weeks are now only getting their hair cut every five or six weeks. People are in save mode and concentrating on ridding themselves of debt because of employment uncertainty in the future. It’s understandable. It’s even expected, given the current economic uncertainty of the province we all live in.
So, no one is surprised to hear that some local businesses are concerned. It’s perfectly logical for them to fear the uncertain near future, especially when it’s beyond their control to rectify the negative effects on their businesses. You expect them to worry about paying their own bills and what their bottom line might look like if this trend continues, but that’s not what these particular business owners are fearing. It wasn’t their own profit margins they were concerned about or even their own wellbeing.
Their fear was in having to say ‘no’ when being asked to contribute to worthy causes. You see, folks, these business owners share the same culture of compassion that the residents of our community identifies with. They understand that there are more needs than what our government will ever be able to fulfill. They understand that our community depends on many of the social programs we all support. They understand that the same economic pressures that have caused a decrease in clientele for them, is responsible for increasing the clientele at our local foodbank. But as much as they want to contribute, they must all fulfill their financial obligations to their landlords, their staff, their suppliers, and their government, first. Their concern is over how much they will have left to contribute to their community. Their fear is in letting their community down.
Most of us think of others a little more at this time of year. Many of us might adopt a family through the Lioness Food Hamper Drive, or buy a few extra tins of food for the food bank. We’ll buy an extra toy for the toy drive or maybe even drop a few dollars in a Christmas Kettle while we do our Christmas shopping. But I’d like to suggest we take our generosity a little further.
When you buy that toy for the toy drive, buy it local. When you buy food for the food bank, buy it local. Instead of wandering the oversized malls in Calgary, search through the many smaller shops right here at home to fulfill your Christmas shopping needs. Buy gift cards from local retailers. If you’re having an office Christmas party, consider booking a local eatery instead of a restaurant outside of our community. I challenge each of us to keep as many of our holiday season dollars local as possible. I just know that, if we all drive around this community and really stop and look, that we’ll all discover a lot of cool stores, eatery’s, and services that we didn’t even know we had.
If we all do this, it won’t be just the local businesses thanking you for your support. Indirectly, you’ll be supporting local sports teams, service clubs, schools, social programs, and community initiatives. We don’t have to spend more. We just have to keep what we do spend as local as possible.