On December 20 a large package arrived in the post at the Journal office. Inside were five large handmade Christmas stockings and a square quilted Christmas table mat. They were accompanied by a card, with the following message written in it: “I made the enclosed items for those in your community who made it through the horrific fires this summer but have no Christmas items. I didn’t know how to get these items to them so I thought you folks at the local newspaper might know a way.
“Thanks for helping and have a wonderful Christmas. Corri.”
Corri lives in Delta, and as far as I know has no connection with the area. But she felt compelled to help out as best she could, making and sending some handcrafted Christmas items to help people she will probably never meet. (They were given to Violet Cowley and her family, who lost their house on the Ashcroft reserve on July 7.)
Corri is far from alone in doing something to help us. This past spring and summer have been brutal ones for our communities; but during a time of tragedy and disaster, countless people stepped up, usually unbidden, to help out where and when and how they could. When floods once again hit Cache Creek, locals showed up to fill and place sandbags; and during the weeks’-long search for Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy, local volunteers spent countless hours looking for him, and supporting the searchers.
When the Elephant Hill wildfire exploded on July 7, local residents rolled up their sleeves and stepped up to the plate, providing meals for firefighters and first responders and organizing collection depots for donated goods, to ensure they got to those who needed them. People at a distance from the community organized supply runs of food, furniture, household goods, and more. A German couple who visited the region in 2016 donated to the Red Cross to help wildfire victims.
In one of his lesser-known tales, “The Seven Poor Travellers”, Charles Dickens wrote “Christmas comes but once a year, which is unhappily too true; for when it begins to stay with us the whole year round we shall make this earth a very different place.” I think we saw, this past spring and summer, what this earth would look like if the spirit of Christmas lasted all through the year instead of being confined to December.
People did what they could, without thought of recompense or recognition. At least one local person said her house would be empty for a time during the summer; she would leave a key, and if anyone knew of someone displaced by the fire who needed a place to stay … well, the house was empty and the key was there. Whenever a convoy of supplies turned up, there were somehow always people there to help unload, sort, and stack the goods. The Ashcroft and Cache Creek fire halls saw more donated food than they could shake a stick at. Wherever you turned, there were people helping, and wanting to help.
There is much of 2017 that no one wants to repeat or remember; but the countless acts of selflessness, large and small, are well worth remembering. They show us what we are at our best; and that best is very, very good indeed. Long may it continue.