The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 22, 2013

Make glad the heart

The Daily Item

— In the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to thank a few very generous anonymous donors to The Daily Item Needy Family Fund, expressing appreciation while respecting their wishes to remain out of the limelight.

People have perfectly admirable reasons for anonymous giving. Some find the basis for that in their religious faith, others do not want to be solicited by a whole host of fundraisers and some do not want to unintentionally appear to slight other worthy organizations that are not the beneficiaries of their generosity.

In the newspaper business, we sometimes encounter a few of the less attractive elements associated with nonprofit enterprises and other projects that solicit funds through the media. You come to understand and respect the inclinations to remain private or anonymous in charitable endeavors and learn to withhold judgment about the names you see and names you do not see associated with various causes.

It is remarkable how you (dear readers, partners and neighbors) have sustained the Christmas-time fund year after year through leaner times, when it matters most to those you help. We hope that means you accept the simplicity and purity of the effort and intent.

The newspaper’s role is merely to publicize the need along with our partners at Sunbury Broadcasting, Inc. The Daily Item’s reporters and editors team with Sara Bartlett of the radio to write the stories, which we publish on the front page from about Thanksgiving until Christmas.

The approach is basic. People tell their stories. The media reflect the need. There is not much schmaltzy seasoning added in the writing and delivery. I applaud reporters and editors for the straightforward tone of the stories. I think that is respectable and respectful.

A few readers have asked about changing the name of the effort from Needy Family Fund to something more modern. Conceding that the title may sound a bit dated to some, the fund has been around for 23-24 years and has developed an identity.

Most readers do not object perhaps because the name is familiar and the record of helping neighbors has been honored and appreciated for so long by both those who give and those who receive.

As you can tell from the personal stories, some of the needs are temporary, and many — maybe most — are unselfish. Not every situation is going to resonate, but many involve a request that will help someone deliver happiness to another member of their family, often a child or grandchild.

Everyone recognizes that urge to “make glad the heart of childhood” — the phrase used by Frances Pharcellus Church in his reply to Virginia O’Hanlon, published in the New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897.

I believe that is what fills the Needy Family Fund year after year. I cannot think of a better explanation.

Susquehanna Bank keeps the account. The Salvation Army units in Sunbury and Milton and a squad of faithful volunteers deliver the support.

Of course, many of you have allowed us to publish your names and gifts in association with this effort. That helps us show the breadth of support for the fund, the range of donations and how very many of our neighbors want to be there for folks who have had a setback in their lives.

The newspaper does its best to chronicle the extraordinary mutual support that surfaces every day throughout the year. This is, unsurprisingly, a generous time of year. Some days, it seems as if we can barely keep up with all the toy drives, church dinners, shopping events and all-around kindness demonstrated by individuals and community groups.

If you have been reading along through the years, you know this column is no rival to Freddi Carlip’s bi-weekly gushers. Freddi has a knack for writing appreciatively about people that I lack. So, this may seem comparatively wooden. Thank you for reading this far.

Here’s the take-away. Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year to all. Thank you for your business, for reading the newspaper, for being generous. We go a long way for 75 cents. We do it every day. If we can be of service to you, we are here for you.

Gary Grossman is the publisher of The Daily Item and The Danville News.