It’s personal, no matter how large the cause

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, November 24, 2012

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As a community newspaper, we aim to bring our readers stories that impact them most directly. That includes coverage of accidents and fires in the county (or that involve people from our county) and the accomplishments and not-so-wise decisions of our neighbors.

Erika Pedroza

Erika Pedroza

We find the “local connection” in every news item we run – even in the obituaries and press releases sent from out of state.

At times we work to put a face to a larger issue, as we did in the recent, two-week feature series on the War on Drugs. The series included a couple of harder news stories, filled with staggering statistics and the perspective of law enforcement officers and prosecutors.

The series also ran the stories of former users – one paying the price, others who got help in time to withdraw and recover. As informative as the other articles were, the personal stories – the ones that put a face to the statistics – are more stirring and relatable. Those are the stories of our neighbors, people we work with, attend school with and are served by at local restaurants – neighbors who stomp the same ground we do.

That concept seems applicable when choosing our charities, too – like the “Look Local” campaign implemented a couple of years ago. We are flooded with requests for donations for a multitude of great causes, all local – canned food drives for our local food banks, diaper drives for the pregnancy resource center, catalogue fundraisers flung in our face by family members to benefit their school or sports team. The list of causes that benefit our neighbors and friends goes on and on.

While I’d love to go grab a pound cake from every bake sale at the local banks, or buy a raffle ticket from every non-profit for my shot at a new toy, I just can’t.

I am, however, more prone to contribute to a cause if I know the specific beneficiary. As a matter of fact, as you’re reading this I’m probably face-planting and gasping for air as a participant in a benefit soccer tournament (presuming it’s Saturday). And although I may regret it Sunday when I can’t pry myself out of bed, I didn’t think twice about participating, despite my lack of athleticism.

I do this not only because I know the family and specific cause (offsetting the medical expenses of the father-in-law of two of my second-cousins, who is battling kidney cancer), but because I couldn’t imagine not being at my dad’s side if he were fighting a life-threatening disease, like one cousin’s husband and another’s wife, who aren’t able to be with their dad in Mexico.

However small, my contribution might pay a sliver of a round of treatment or a couple of items in the grocery basket.

I also recognize the importance of contributing to a larger cause where I don’t know the directly impacted – causes like the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Money raised at this event – somewhere, however long ago – funded the research that developed the pill that is treating my family friend’s ailment.

I became involved in the fundraiser in memory of my grandmother. Although she lost her battle with lung cancer, she had her good days. Yes, I believe that was largely due to a higher power, but I also think the treatment she received played a role.

If it weren’t for the money collected at fundraisers like Relay for Life, there wouldn’t be such options. In addition, an increasing number of my family members and friends who live in the area are fighting or supporting a loved one fighting the disease. Each familiar face is another reason to support the research for a cure.

Amidst your younger relatives’ petitions to buy cookie dough or donate to benefit accident victims, consider becoming involved in a Relay. The local event is held annually in May, but an informational meeting for those interested is 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at the Hampton Inn in Decatur.

Although perhaps not directly, your efforts will aid familiar faces – an alarmingly increasing number of them.

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