Outpouring Of Compassion Rewarding To Witness

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As the editor of a small-town newspaper, you see all sides of people. It teaches you a lot about human nature -- a lesson that is, in turns, disparaging and inspiring. This week, it is the latter.

In the past two editions of the Payson Roundup, we ran several stories about people who have fallen on hard times.

We told the story of a little girl, 2-year-old Mila Phillips, who has an inoperable brain tumor.

We told the story of two women who have made it their life's work to help veterans in need through the Veterans Helping Veterans Shelter.

In hopes that it wouldn't happen to others, we told the story of a young mother and her 3-year-old son whose house burned to the ground because they did not have a smoke alarm. (See the follow-up story in this issue.)

Over the past year, we have told many such stories. And even though the people in these stories do not always ask for help, Payson is the kind of community that lifts up its own when they have fallen.

My phone rang. My e-mail box filled. People walked into the lobby of the Roundup asking for me. And they all had the same question, "How can I help?"

I called the Bank of America and asked about the Mila Phillips Medical Fund. The woman on the phone promised that she would get the information together so the bank clerks would know about the account in case anyone came to make donations.

Within hours of the Roundup hitting newsstands, someone was on the phone asking what they could do to help the mother whose house was lost to fire. I took her name and number and told her I would call her back as soon as I knew of any fund-raising efforts.

I didn't have to wait long. Soon, an employee from the Cedar Ridge Restaurant called. Apparently, the young mother works at the restaurant and her fellow employees were banding together to help her in her time of need.

This might seem like a story of people giving in the Christmas spirit, but I'm happy to say that this is not an isolated incident.

I remember the story we ran this summer about Arkie, the hound dog who killed a mountain lion and was put in quarantine because he didn't have a rabies shot. Dozens of people called asking how they could help the dog owner. Before week's end, the entire, expensive quarantine was paid for by strangers, many of whom asked to remain anonymous.

Between the Good Guy Awards we publish on the front page of each edition and the letters to the editor we regularly run offering thanks for generosity of time and money, I know I could fill the pages of this newspaper with similar stories.

As an editor, it's easy to become cynical about the motives of others. In this desk, you tend to see people at their worst. But, thankfully, those difficult interactions are balanced with rewarding moments like these, when I look out at this community and see a place full of compassion, where residents band together in hard times and no one needs to go without.

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