Editorial: Gifts to community improve life for all of us

As the world careens along through wave after wave of bad news – wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, tidal waves, police shootings and shootings of police, falling test scores, starvation, corruption, etc., etc., local moments of common grace warm our hearts.

Recently, there have been plenty in Sweet Home.

Every donation to the Boys & Girls Club, which truly fills a significant need in our community, falls into that category. So do the folks who volunteer their time to improve our city’s image through their beautification efforts in the Main Street median and elsewhere. So do the people who volunteer their time at local aid agencies, making sure the hungry are fed; who serve as unpaid youth coaches; in schools; in churches; at the U.S. Forest Service – obviously, the list could go on and on and we’d still probably leave someone out. You get the point.

All of this is exemplified by the anonymous $100,000 donation to help fund the effort to replace the high school football stadium’s natural grass field, which we report on page 1.

The turf project has been a true seat-of-the-pants effort largely carried out by our football coach, Dustin Nichol, and a small number of individuals who have made phone calls and taken field trips to research the topic of artificial turf and to come up with a plan to replace the natural grass, which is expensive to maintain and has can only be used to a limited extent during rainy weather.

Their effort has been complicated by other needs, particularly the announcement earlier this year that our local Boys & Girls Club would close if a local financial base did not materialize by the end of June.

It’s been heart-warming to see the local folks recognize the value the club has to the community as a whole, and dig into their pockets to donate to the cause. But it certainly made life harder for the committee working on the field, because it’s a little hard to go to a potential donor and tell them your field is more important than an agency that serves the community in as many ways as the local Boys & Girls Club has.

The field is important, and if this artificial turf does for Sweet Home what Lebanon’s new field has done for that community – it’s difficult to drive by without seeing people out using it, rain or shine – it will be a good thing.

Anything that gets kids (and adults) out of their chairs and into some physical activity is good for our community.

We’ve had similarly generous donations in recent years: the $202,000 gift in 2012 from Lou Blaser, husband of former Sweet Home schoolteacher Alice Blaser, to the Sweet Home Community Foundation, which has provided a base for much of the foundation’s recent grants to local nonprofits; the $100,000, donated anonymously, for a new four-wheel-drive ambulance that is needed by the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District; the house built by local residents for a disabled man whose home was crushed by a falling tree in a storm; and many smaller donations that, together, are just as important, such as the folks who built the Community Center and improved Roy Johnston Field.

Whatever the motivation here, we all need to be thankful for people who desire to help others.

When this field gets built, in whatever form it takes, we hope whoever donated that money enjoys watching high school football and soccer players running around on a surface that isn’t a mud bog. We hope they see track athletes in the spring warming up on the artificial grass, running over hurdles and doing things that are difficult to do on our field as it is now, particularly after it’s rained. We hope they see cheer squad members practicing gymnastics on a surface that won’t leave stains and that will give them some solid footing along with a bit of cushion.

We hope they see junior high and grade school children taking advantage of improved recreational opportunities. We hope they see the community out there, walking, running, jumping, playing tag, playing Ultimate Frisbee, playing touch football, playing Whiffleball.

And when they see the community recreating in that facility, we hope they know we’re thankful because all that activity will be a result of the generosity they’ve shown to Sweet Home.