By Ray Sullivan
The joy of living is encompassed deeply in the joy of giving.
That basic lesson in humanity spoke repeatedly to me this past summer and fall throughout the Clovis-Curry County United Way campaign, which I had the privilege of chairing.
It was great to learn that we made our goal of $392,500 thanks to a last-minute gift from Mike and Joyce Landgraf. They and their company, LCI 2, like many others here, have been generous backers of this community non-profit effort to help those among us in need. The Landgrafs had promised to help out again if United Way got close to its goal, and they decided that $11,421 shy of the mark met their expectation.
Which leads to this point of thanks that the Landgrafs and most others able to give larger amounts know well: Every single penny, every single dollar given is as important as all those big-dollar amounts. Thanks to each of you who did that, to all you old and new givers who struggle paycheck to paycheck yet pledged your sparse dollars. Thanks to the children of Clovis Municipal Schools who accepted the challenge of a penny drive and sent us more than $7,200 in new gifts. Thanks to the new givers, from Grady to Clovis to Texico and elsewhere, who added hundreds or thousands more.
Together, your spirit reminds me of a quote I just found, by a man named Sydney Smith: “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can.”
So, what is it we have joined together to do besides pledge money? Enormous good for people hurt or humbled by life’s circumstances. Children will be screened by Oasis, usually at the request of our law enforcement system, to determine if or how the youngsters were molested, and by whom. People burned out of their homes may get help from Red Cross. Men and women seeking spiritual guidance will be uplifted by the angels of Salvation Army. And the Lighthouse will have a new building (some United Way pledges will go to that effort) to offer food and shelter for the homeless.
Personally, this campaign reminded me not to doubt like the apostle Thomas. In early December, about two weeks before we ended the 2004 campaign, I feared we might not even exceed 2003’s total of $356,552. Several other equally wonderful non-profit campaigns this fall tapped into this county’s wonderful giving spirit to meet other needs. Those efforts were successful, and some raised many thousands more than their organizers anticipated.
I feared the giving would taper off rapidly, given too that it was prime Christmas-present buying time. Thank God — you know him, that guy I’d been offering many a campaign chair’s prayer to for days on end — I was so wrong.
Seven days before Christmas, our campaign coffers were at least $40,000 richer and we were nearing $370,000. So my new hope was to bump it over $380,000 by campaign’s end. And we did. We brought in $381,079, or 97 percent of goal as of Dec. 21.
You know the rest of the tale. In this uniquely resilient county in the Land of Enchantment, in the best economic year on so many fronts here that anyone can remember, the United Way made its monetary goal of $392,500.
Thanks to each of you believers in people’s capacity for good, you will help United Way live up to its mission: Uniting Neighbors, Changing Lives.
I smile a lot these days, and without any doubt. I know each of you is blessed for giving what you can to help others, no matter if it was a penny or a dollar or lots of dollars. Together we achieved our goal.
Ray Sullivan is publisher of Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico and chairman of the 2004 Clovis-Curry County United Way campaign. Contact him at 763-3431 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org