The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 10, 2012

Help bring beautiful lights, vital knowledge to children

United Way column

Lights, Lights — Beautiful Lights

That is what a little 2-and-a-half-year-old boy said when we carried one of the donated trees from the Wonderland of Trees into his Fayetteville home, “Look, Mommy, lights, lights — beautiful lights.” It was then that I didn’t know if I could contain myself and hold back the tears.

As Santa’s helper and I entered the house, it didn’t take long to tell there was nothing in this house that represented Christmas. No tree, no wreaths, no presents — nothing! They told us that last year they had this little 2-foot tree, which was nothing like this 7.5-foot pre-lit tree that had been purchased and decorated by BB&T then purchased at auction by an anonymous gentleman who purchased eight trees that night so they could be donated to deserving families and organizations.

When we talk about deserving families, this lady is certainly deserving. She is a grandmother who works a full-time job and is trying to provide for her six grandchildren who are by one of her daughters who is incapable of taking care of and providing for her children because of her life choices. Choices that are similar to those that are being made every day in southern West Virginia. Choices of drugs and alcohol over providing for your very own children. These choices break your heart; however, they are choices that are very real.

So I say thank you to everyone once again who was part of Wonderland of Trees so I could hear, “lights, lights — beautiful lights”!

School demonstrations

This week I had the opportunity to step into a classroom at Woodrow Wilson High School where Margaret Ann had been asked to bring the anatomically correct babies to a freshman health class to do a demonstration for the students to show them the effects of drugs and alcohol on babies as well as one with effects of shaken baby syndrome.

Folks, as the father of a 17-year-old daughter, I have to tell you, we need this message to go out to our children. We need more Margaret Anns out there sharing this message! But to make that happen we have to raise money.

If you would like to have one of these demonstrations done for your group, please call the office so we can schedule one for you. Trust me; it is impactful!

Year-end giving

As we approach the end of the year that was 2012 and each of you is reviewing how you want to wrap up your year-end giving, I encourage each of you to consider giving to the United Way of Southern West Virginia.

I know all of us are receiving letters in the mail daily from very good and deserving organizations asking us to make year-end donations to their particular organization. This is when the dilemma becomes, whom do I give to and whom do I say no to? Well, let me offer the thought that when you give to the United Way of Southern West Virginia, you are probably giving to almost all of the organizations that are sending you letters, plus several more.

Remember that the United Way dollars are going to support Thirty-Two LOCAL agencies that touch our five county areas. Counties like Summers, Raleigh, Fayette, Wyoming and Nicholas. Plus all the extra projects that I spoke about last week. There is no question your dollars will be put to good work!

It’s also not too late to invite Margaret to come to your office or business to talk about a Workplace Campaign. This is where everyone has the opportunity to give on a regular basis through paycheck deductions. Even a dollar a paycheck adds up and is the backbone of the campaign. Give us a call today to set one up.

To make your tax-deductible donation, please call us at 304-253-2111 or mail your check to United Way of Southern West Virginia, PO Box 5456, Beckley, WV 25801.

And let’s all remember to Live and Give United!

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2012-2013 Campaign chair Richard Jarrell owns the two Chick-fil-A franchises in Beckley and is a member of the Raleigh County Board of Education.

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