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Thankful for those who make a difference

In my career, I’ve had the fortune of meeting many in our community who take on the task of making a difference.

Big or small, there are those whose actions leave a lasting imprint on our lives. Whether they are teachers, coaches, charitable volunteers, emergency responders, clergy or a someone who just wants to help their neighbors, they find ways to lend a hand for the benefit of others, and, hopefully, inspire more to do the same.

You look around our area, especially at this time of year, and you see some of those who work to make a difference.

You see the individuals who assist with the kettle campaigns of the Salvation Army, you see those raising money and bringing in food donations for the Community Bread Basket, you see those who drive the campaigns for our local United Way organizations as they work to aid so many local groups which then give back to so many more.

We’ve all found ourselves at low points in our lives. Many of us were fortunate to have someone to talk to, or to point us in the right direction to help get us back on our feet.

There are those who dedicate themselves to helping us get back on our feet, whether it is through a warm meal, maybe some temporary housing or help with some bills, or simply by lending an ear and being a good listener. Maybe they’ve guided us toward a program to assist us in overcoming a particular challenge.

Or, perhaps in our younger days, there was an educator who inspired us toward a certain career path or to follow our love for a particular area of study.

Maybe there was someone who instilled in us the importance of teamwork and selflessness.

We often mistakenly look at politicians or people of success as being the “leaders” of our society. We seek out fame because of the status it brings.

We think, “Look at how well off they are. They must have done something right to get there. Maybe we should do the same.”

What we really should be doing is looking more toward those who find ways to make a difference in the lives of others.

Look to their example.

Look to those who put their lives on the line for total strangers. Look to those who work to raise money for community non-profits. Look to those who work for some of those non-profits. Look to those who organize litter cleanups or community art projects or try to preserve our history. Look to those who reach out to that child who doesn’t understand why they might not have a warm meal at home. Look to those who offer support groups to help address some of those “darker” aspects of our society.

They are the ones making a difference in our community, in our country and in our world. We should all do more to be more like them. In the end, it’s really about the effect they have on others than how well known they are. It’s about the inspiration they provide, not how much money they may have.

They are what keep us all moving forward in our own lives.

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A dear friend announced recently she will be starting a new journey, using her own life experiences to assist those who have been in similar situations.

Her heart has always been in giving back and helping others, and even though it’s not the path she imagined for herself, she is taking what life has given her and building her own trail while helping others find a way to do the same.

I can’t begin to describe how proud of her I am.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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