The Christmas season brings out the best in lots of people.
I'm proud to say that I worked at WSFA 12 News in Montgomery and did my small part over the years to raise money and collect food and toys during what we called 12's Day of Giving.
It was a heart-warming experience for me and all my co-workers who participated.
Although I watched it from home, having retired from the news business, 2018 was a good example of the generosity of our neighbors across the WSFA coverage area.
The station sent one of its "live trucks" and technicians to begin the remote broadcast day starting with Today In Alabama at 5 a.m. — well before the sun came up — on the morning of Friday, Dec. 7.
Members of the news department, employees of Dixie Electric Cooperative and Walmart spent 14 hours collecting donations of money, food and new toys for the Montgomery Area Food Bank, the Christmas Clearing House and the Marine Corps' Toys For Tots drive.
The station was assisted by AUM, Brewbaker Motors and Wind Creek Casinos in Wetumpka — which served as drop-off points for donations.
When all the counting was done, thanks to the generosity of viewers all across south-central Alabama, 12's Day of Giving had raised more than $26,000 in cash, several tons of nonperishable food items, and hundreds of new toys destined for Christmas trees all around the viewing area.
So just how generous are the people around these parts?
I read a number of reports on the generosity of Alabamians compared to folks who live in other states. According to several publications, Alabamians ranked as high as second in the nation in charitable giving. That's saying a lot for a state that's used to seeing its national rankings somewhere near the bottom of various categories.
As an example, Alabamians' generosity means a lot to people who regularly visit the Millbrook Welcome Center. In a story posted on WSFA.com, center president Bryan Wilson says his food pantry distributes food to more than 300 families each month. The operation in Millbrook benefits directly from the Montgomery Area Food Bank as do similar operations in the 35 counties served by the MAFB.
Wilson told a touching story that brings all of this into perspective, especially at this time of year.
"We had a man that came in here about three years ago and got food every week," Wilson said. "And then for about a year he stopped coming. But then he walked in and gave me a check for $5,000."
It's that kind of story that helps us understand just how important charity is for thousands of people in our area.
As we approach Christmas, think about how you and your family can help those in need. Remember the words of Francis of Assisi, "Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these, they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve."
I hope you and your family enjoy this wonderful time of the year — sharing what you can with your neighbors in need.