Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Take pride in giving

Whenever the national media happens to look in on the Wood River Valley, reference is always made to the area's wealth. That is only half the story, of course. What the outside world doesn't see or know is the remarkable generosity of this community. It is a generosity to be proud of and one that continually surprises those new and old to the area.

Don't believe it? Consider just a cursory list of the fundraising efforts in recent years: The Tom Montgomery Fund, a new hospital, numerous efforts to pay the medical costs of ill or injured residents, annual events supporting Advocates for the Survivors of Domestic Violence, Camp Rainbow Gold, the Toy Run, the Holiday Baskets, donations to the Hunger Coalition and countless more.

On the surface Blaine County residents would seem to be doing pretty well. The 2003 median household income here—according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service—is $50,496, considerably higher than $37,572, the figure for the state at large. But median means that half the people are above the value, and half are below. And in a valley with a high cost of living, that means a number of people are struggling to eat, stay warm and provide for their children. In fact, 7.8 percent of Blaine County residents—1469 men, women and children—fell below the poverty level in 1999. So, the need is real, despite all the reports of our great wealth.

It is our hope that during this holiday season those able and willing to give continue to do so with as much energy as they have all year. Donate your time, money, talents, compassion and hope.

This is a strong community, but only as strong as its weakest link. With giving, we can make it stronger still.

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