November 24, 2012

From Christmas trees to self respect

Oh my goodness. Or in text language, OMG. That's what I thought this morning as a read the sad story about the Optimist Club of Southwest Topeka, Kansas. This is their 52nd year to set up a Christmas tree lot; it will also be their last.

According to the article, a declining membership has stretched the abilities of the club and they no longer have the manpower to staff the lot in order to sell 400 Christmas trees. Richard Bush, a spokesperson for the Optimist Club says that he will miss talking with customers. Ralph Kieffer, a customer for sixteen years, says he will miss buying his tree from a nonprofit that then shares their money with special causes in the community like the Boys & Girls Club and TARC, a mental health program.

Yes, service clubs are finding it harder to stay relevant in a busy, cyber-connected world, but it was one comment on this article that prompted me to write this rebuttal. According to jacovdog, "Civic groups are a relic of the past. It's government's job to take care of everyone. That's why we pay taxes."

Can I get a collective OMG, please?

It is not government's job to take care of everyone, nor is it a service club's responsibility to do so. You have a personal responsibility to take care of yourself and to help your family, neighbors, and then others who are less fortunate than you.

If you joined a service club, you might get this continued education in good citizenship that you apparently failed to learn in school. And guess what? You might even earn a little self respect in the process. Service clubs build character. Optimist Club members believe by giving of one's self in service, we will will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world. 

In other words, we believe that service clubs work to improve the quality of life for all. In my mind, I believe that allows the government to defend us from our enemies, foreign and domestic, and otherwise keep out of our business. 

Now it's time for the collective amen.

Please consider joining the Optimist Club or another service club in your community and make a difference, as the Southwest Topeka Optimist Club has done for fifty-two years, one Christmas tree at a time. 

Photo courtesy of cjonline.com

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