Residents should feel obligated to donate

By Kevin Wilson: FNNM Columnist

I was renting a movie a few weeks ago, and the clerk asked me, “Would you like to donate a dollar to the Muscular Dystrophy Association?”

That evening, I agreed and the clerk told me to write my name on the card “so people will know what a sweetheart you are.” As always, I signed off as Regis Philbin.

OK, I don’t always do that. Sometimes I’m Ryan Seacrest, sometimes Justin Timberlake. I never write my real name because I don’t think recognition is a rightful goal or side effect of charity. Recognition belongs in charity on the rare circumstance you are famous and your name inspires people to give.

The words “Kevin” and “Wilson” might not stimulate charity at any point. I’m hoping another word – obligation – is enough as many in eastern New Mexico need help.
Browse our recent newspapers or our Web sites, and you can see numerous stories relating to the tornadoes that hit Clovis and Logan.

You’ll also find stories of people who lost. Maybe they lost their homes, or the food in their refrigerator due to power outages.

Cutting a check is a great way to help, but it’s not the only way. I spent Tuesday morning in my apartment, asking myself, “What do I not need that somebody else does?” So far, the answer is $6.50 in a change jar, eight unwrapped four-packs of AA batteries and mailing tape.

True, it’s not much. But maybe the $6.50 is a meal for somebody who can’t cook because his power’s out. Maybe the batteries power a CD player so a kid can get lost in music instead of tragedy. And maybe the tape helps somebody temporarily fix something until a recovery or insurance check arrives.

One of my friends said I was sweet when I told her I was finding items for charity. I disagreed, and said I was obligated. Saturday saw Clovis’ streets full of people riding in their undamaged vehicles, taking pictures with their expensive digital cameras, so I doubt I’m the only one who’s obligated.

I’m confident the area will come through, because it’s got a great history of pooling small gifts into miracles.

It wasn’t too long ago when Dora High students gave up $6,000 in prom funds to help pay funeral expenses for former classmate Clayton Stokes, who died in a car crash. Residents rewarded the gesture with nearly $17,000 in donations, catering and supplies so Dora could have a prom and a scholarship in Stokes’ name.

It was only months ago when James Bickley Elementary students were robbed of $200 in pocket change they saved up to buy playground equipment. Residents found their change jars, and the kids ended up with $2,500.

A tornado trumps proms and playgrounds, and any eastern New Mexico resident with shelter and supplies probably has something extra. Find something you won’t miss, and find a way to get it to your friends and neighbors.

If anybody asks, tell them you’re obligated. Or if you’re embarrassed, tell them Regis Philbin sent you.