Gifts, Great And Small Bless Us All Through The Year

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’Tis the day before Christmas and most households in and around Payson and Pine, Star Valley and Strawberry are in a flurry — if the occupants are home for the holidays.

But we would like to suggest each of us take a moment on this Christmas Eve and step out into the cool, clear air of the Mogollon Rim, breathe deep and let your mind drift back over the year that is so quickly coming to a close.

Chances are, the gifts you are getting have not been relegated to the holiday we are celebrating.

As a community we have given our neighbors and ourselves some very special gifts during 2010.

One of the first that comes to mind is the combined efforts that helped area food banks make it through the biggest part of the year with the money and stock to help the staggering swell of Rim Country residents in need of assistance.

More than $20,000 and 50,000 pounds of food were collected through the big community food drive; that was enough to keep the shelves at food banks stocked through mid December organizers estimate.

A new drive is under way, so there is time to give another great gift to our neighbors in need. Since the official launch of the current food drive on Nov. 16, residents have donated 20,900 pounds of food and $10,300.

The committee hopes to collect 55,000 pounds and $25,000 by Super Bowl Sunday in February.

Another gift, which is yet to be fully realized, is the effort by District 5 State Senator Sylvia Allen to help Gila Community College on the road to independence. It is a long, rough road, and plenty of roadblocks are likely to be thrown up along the way, but at least someone down at the Legislature is listening to the call for freedom in the wilderness up here in Rim Country.

And then there is the promised gift of seeing a branch of Arizona State University come to Payson.

While both the GCC and ASU deals are far from being realities, having hopes of promises to be realized can be considered a gift. Looking forward and working to create a bright future for our communities is a chance to build a legacy.

Consider the legacy created when the state threatened to close Tonto Natural Bridge and the leaders of Payson dug in their heels, bit the budget bullet and said, “No. We won’t let that happen.”

These are just a few of the gifts we have received during 2010. There have been many more, small, personal triumphs — some reported in these pages, others that have quietly lifted individual lives and the lives of families in our communities.

So, on this busy, bustling day before Christmas, take a moment, breathe in the wonderful pine- and juniper-scented air of the Rim Country and remember the big and little gifts that have come your way this year. Even if that gift is only having the great blessing of making the Mogollon Rim your home.

Merry Christmas.

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