OPINION COLUMNS

Wise has the Christmas spirit year-round

By Dave Rogers | Published Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I’m dreaming of a Wise County Christmas.

At my own Wise County country home.

Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers

While the homestead in Southeast Texas still hasn’t sold and the Wise County country home remains in the planning stage for this Davey come lately, this Rogers Christmas will be spent shuttling between grandparents in Denton County and East Texas.

And a lot of bragging on Wise County.

For the umpteenth time, I’ll tell relatives how Wise County is one of the best kept secrets I ever had the good fortune to be let in on. I’ll tell them about the beautiful vistas, the small-town charm and the tough-as-nails folk who endure withering summer droughts and (I’m told) arctic winters for the cool, green pastures that inevitably follow.

Mostly, I’ll talk about the wonderful people.

Wise County definitely gets Christmas and the part about it’s better to give than to receive.

And not just at Christmastime, but year-round.

Since the day I arrived here last May, it seems like half my stories have been about fundraisers put on by the good folks of Wise County to help those in need.

My first contact with Martin Woodruff, the United Way director, led to one of the nation’s best known fundraising organizations, Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

That story was about how the Plano-based North Texas affiliate had expanded its breast cancer-fighting services to Wise County. The many Komen runs, walks and rides that Wise Countians support raise money that Komen returns to the community through funding important projects like the visits of the mobile mammography unit from the Moncrief Cancer Institute.

But it’s hardly just the well-known charities such as the one that gave us pink baseball bats and pink cleats for NFL players that Wise County supports.

There’s Sarah’s Cure, an event dreamed up by JoBeth and Mark Southard, whose daughter, Sarah, was born with galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder. Wise County has made the one-day Decatur event – a musicfest, fun run and auctions – the nation’s largest fundraiser for the Galactosemia Foundation with more than $200,000 raised in six years.

“Feeding Wise,” a series of stories initiated by editor Brian Knox, has familiarized me with the area’s many food pantries. Through the generosity of Wise County donors – big and small – they do so much for so many.

Area churches, through their benevolence funds, offer help with utility bills, clothes, rent, you name it.

One Wise County newcomer I met at the Wise Area Relief Mission told me she had been greeted and treated so well that she was encouraging her job-hunting friends up north to move here.

And it’s not just grownups who do the giving. The grownups are instilling the giving spirit in the young.

This fall we’ve reported on the canned food drive that has begun to rival the football game when it’s time for the Battle of Big Sandy between Bridgeport and Decatur high schools. Student council leaders at Bridgeport Middle School are operating a free soup kitchen for fellow students who won’t be able to take advantage of the free-or-reduced price lunch program during the two-week Christmas break.

And this follows their overwhelming success at offering free lunch during the weeklong Thanksgiving break.

That brings us to toy runs, angel trees, Spirit of Christmas and Santa Cops, this holiday season’s opportunities for the fortunate among us to spread the Christmas cheer to those in need of the same.

I’d say fortunate – in one way or another – describes all lucky enough to live and/or work in Wise County.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

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