ROTARIANS IN THE COMMUNITY -- Ringing the Salvation Army Bell
Season of generosity has arrived<

Mike Herron/David Williams
Mike Herron, left, president of the Putnam County Rotary Club, and Dave Williams, charter member of Putnam Rotary, take their two-hour turn ringing the bells for The Salvation Army. Both are well known Putnam County business leaders.

Bill/Kitty Ellis
Photo courtesy of Dr. Ellis; not in original article
Kitty and Dr. Bill Ellis ring in holiday cheer.

Bill Ellis
November 26,2010

The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving for their hard won harvest 389 years ago in 1621. They met to pray for strength and courage in this strange new land. They offered their deep gratitude to Almighty God for His blessings during those difficult days.

President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, issued this proclamation in 1863: "The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessing of fruitful field and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they came, others have been added, which are of so ordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God."

This proclamation established Thanksgiving Day as a legal national holiday. President Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be the official "National Thanksgiving Day." The United States Congress finally ratified this day in 1941.

Thanksgiving Day was on Thursday, Nov. 25, exactly one month before Christmas that comes on Saturday this year. These two days are the bookends for the"Season of Generosity" each year.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, Kitty and I stood in front of Kroger's at Scott Depot as a part of the Rotary team ringing the Christmas bells for The Salvation Army. We did it from 2 to 4 p.m., following Glen and Cynthia Gibbs who had followed Marilyn Pemberton and Glen Clark. Dave Williams and Putnam County Rotary President, Mike Herron, relieved us. The last bell ringers were Dianna Casto and Elaine Rader. Rotarians, like other service club members, always put "service above self."

It was an exciting day as we watched small children, teenagers, parents, older men and women smile generously and enthusiastically as they put money in the bright red Salvation Army Kettle. Many parents were teaching their children the blessing of giving.

Putnam County citizens moved deeper into the thanksgiving mode of giving to make a difference in the lives of others when they met at the Sleepy Hollow Golf Club for the traditional Thanksgiving Luncheon on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving week.

We were inspired by the music of Melissa Pratt who is becoming known as "Miss Music" of our county; soloist Cody Wilson; County Manager Brian Donat recounting the blessings upon our county and the inspiring message of Leon McCoy, the legendary football coach and All-American football player who merits the title of "Mr. Putnam County." What a man! He makes a difference in the lives of thousands of teenagers and adults.

Through the food drives in many county churches, schools and other organizations, we find ways to assist those who have need of a helping hand. We also receive appeals from helping agencies ranging from Samaritan's Purse, World Vision, Angel Tree, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to the American Heart Association, to Habitat for Humanity.

We believe in these words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Jesus, Acts 20:35). We will also practice this discipline until we get it right. It will make a big difference for both the giver and the receiver.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist who can be reached at P.O. Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560; phone 304-757-6089.

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