Community shines bright...again


I humble myself before you.

Once again, the call has gone out for help. Once again, this community has rolled up its collective sleeves, plunged headfirst into the effort and has responded with an outpouring of love and money that is destined to soothe another human’s wounds.

It’s a common refrain heard often throughout this community following a fund-raising effort. Ask an organizer of a charitable event how their efforts went and there is always a pause, followed by a slow shaking of the head.

“The people around here are amazing with giving back,” they all say.

So, before we go any further with this week’s column, let me stress this thought again: I am humbled by your generosity, and constantly inspired by your sense of doing right.

Last Saturday night I had the opportunity to attend an auction at the Fat Tuna Grill. The event was organized by Michelle Parrill of the Fat Tuna, and Crystal Layton, of FM-106.9, “The X,” with proceeds to go to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

To simply witness the amount of goods donated by local and regional businesses for auction was inspiring. To see the bidding process of attendees knowingly, and more than willingly, paying more than market value for many of the items was jaw-dropping. It was one of those moments in life when you know exactly what you’re watching unfold before you, and there is no hesitation to call it what it is.

Good.

It was a simple case of people being good, of the need of others facing a tough battle sandblasting whatever problems we might be facing in our own worlds at the time. There were no petty agendas or squabbling over prices, it was simply ... good.

Good to the tune of $16,665 donated to the American Red Cross, in fact.

Dana Banks, the proprietress of The Parkway in Bethany Beach, held a fund-raising effort in her restaurant on Friday night. Though the money raised is going to the same efforts as the event held at the Fat Tuna, Banks had an additional reason for doing what she did.

Her father, Philip H. Banks Sr., had passed away earlier this month and Banks was determined to do something to honor him. Something of substance. The combination of grief over her father, the sadness of watching the struggles of people in the Gulf states and constantly hearing people close to her talk about how they wanted to do something led Banks to come up with an idea of donating half the proceeds from dinner that night to Katrina relief efforts, in the name of her father.

And, how did that go?

“The support was incredible,” said Banks. “This is an amazing community. Period.”

How incredible was the support? Well, Banks was able to raise $4,800 during that dinner for hurricane relief. Actually, $3,100 came from her pledge of half her receipts that night. The other $1,700 came from individual donations beyond the dinner tab.

Her employees got together and donated 10 percent of their tips that night. Three different individuals wrote out checks for $150, and the mayor of Newark presented Banks with a check of $250.

That’s good stuff.

Is there a hidden fear in the community that this area is vulnerable to a storm of Katrina’s strength? You bet. However, it would be small-minded to chalk up the generosity of the local populace to paranoia or feelings of guilt.

These are not isolated instances of giving. Be it families displaced by fire, loved ones stricken by disease or a sports team needing new uniforms, the collective conscience of our community consistently gives and gives and gives — with either money or time.

We have seen money and time from our residents go to helping out with the Little League fields in Roxana, trips for a school steel drum band to exotic locations and various non-profit organizations. When the bell tolls, you people respond.

Every single time.

We have been divided over political affiliations, environmental concerns and the general proliferation of development. There have been moments of discourse over affinities for sports teams, the cost of parking in beach towns and whether or not I wax my head. Actually, I’m not sure that should even be for public debate. What a man does in the privacy of his ...

But I digress.

There are numerous other organizations doing charitable events right now. Some are for Hurricane Katrina relief, and others are for various other endeavors. They all need our help.

What satisfies me is the knowledge that the community will continue to do good.