Andrew Dys

Holiday season: Pick somebody to help

At the same time Friday that crowds pushed into stores to find the best bargains, volunteers at Rock Hill’s Sterling Lodge and Living Beauty Temple fed the hungry.

Albert Crawford, who leads the fraternal organization temple, did not spend the day after Thanksgiving with his feet up in a recliner. He carved turkey while, around him, dozens of people fed the elderly from church adult day cares and countless others who walked in.

As Crawford put it, now is the time to look out for others.

“Don’t talk about making a difference,” he said. “Do it.”

All the money raised at two holiday events, dances at the lodge, go back to charities.

“The whole idea is to raise money and give it away because people need it,” said Jerry Seale of the lodge.

In York County over the next month, there is room for both the important economics of the holidays – the stuff bought and sold that means jobs and an economy that can recover – and the neediest.

These are people whose dreams do not involve a bargain on a TV set. They remain out there on the fringes – sometimes invisible, almost always quiet.

Those from charities know that the holiday season is the time for finding a place to give of self.

For the next five weeks, all York County Library branches will accept food for area pantries and food banks instead of the normal fines for overdue books. For a few weeks, those who lose books under couch pillows, car seats, wherever, can get $1 per food item toward knocking off those fines.

To see the need for yourself, all you need to do is show up at any of several area food pantries before the doors open – from Rock Hill to York and Clover, from Chester to Fort Mill. See the line waiting to get in.

Every day, the demand far exceeds the amount of money or food available that day. Signs on doors sometimes say that no more people can be served, that there truly is no more room at the inn.

On Thursday, the Chick-fil-A on Cherry Road in Rock Hill will be surrounded by cops, buckets in hand to collect money.

All of it will go to the Special Olympics so that the annual local games can continue to offer the thrills and joy of not a New Year’s Day bowl game in front of millions on TV, but just the greatness of finishing a race in a wheelchair when the only audience is the human heart.

In April, area police raised more than $8,600 for the cause, and they want to give it one last shot during the holidays. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

“It is a way to give back, to help those who need a hand,” said Phil Tripp, a detective with the Rock Hill Police Department.

And that right there is the greatness of the holiday season. It takes no special title or membership in a group to find a place to make a difference. All it takes is finding whoever can use what it is that anyone has to offer – money or time or food or love – and giving it away to somebody else.

That gift was seen Friday in the eyes and hearts of those ladies at the Living Beauty Temple on Ogden Road who cooked and served.

It will be there in the libraries, where librarians will go a month without having to hear the absurd excuses from people such as me who claim that the mother-in-law stole the overdue books.

The gift will be out there among the police officers collecting the money Thursday at the Chick-fil-A.

It will be with the Salvation Army bell ringers trying to keep a shelter open for women and children.

These are just a few examples. The only limit is the breadth of view and the capacity to give.

It is a Christmas gift that requires no wrapping, and will never be returned because the person who received it did not want it.