Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Taxes Required: Ramp Building and Fundraising the Old Fashioned, Genuine Grassroots Way

I wrote most of this post a couple of months ago, and fiddled around and never posted it. But Dr. Mabuse has a post up on Kraalspace that needs to be seen, about helping our neighbors ourselves, instead of relying on the government. It's a chilling reminder of how learned helplessness can become the order of the day, one tiny relinquishment at a time. Of how well-meaning committees inevitably engineer inescapable tyranny in reality. Of the good intentions that pave the road to hell.

In Dr Mabuse's post "Government Goliath, Local Davids", a man who went to hospital, had a leg amputated, and couldn't come home because his house didn't have a ramp, and the government agency tasked with paying for building ramps kept turning him down. So like Charlie on the MTA, he had to live at the hospital while waiting for Uncle Sugar to build his ramp. Until some good citizens got word of his plight, and in one weekend, built a ramp for his house.

A similar, but different thing happened two years ago in my little town.
A family man (with a child still in high school) lost his leg to complications of diabetes. Here's where his story differs from the one Doc shares: as soon as the surgery was scheduled, the Baptist Church sent out a flyer that the men of our town would meet at his house the next Saturday morning to build him a ramp.

And you know who built that ramp? The OLD MEN. Our young men are busy - they serve as our Volunteer firemen, coach little league, sit on the school board, and a host of other things. But our 70 and 80 year olds don't let any grass grow under their feet either. By the end of the day, the ramp was completed, and a good time was had by all. Just because it needed to be done.

It's just sad that the man Dr Mabuse writes about didn't have neighbors or a church to jump in and help him sooner, but ultimately it was people in his local community who took care of meeting his need. And that is how it should be.

From the post I started earlier, here are some more examples of how people take care of each other, and meet local needs, without government involvement or permission.

We went to a lot of fun local events this fall. Some were fairs where we were able to support local crafters, some were organizations doing fundraising, and  a couple were pure benefits for local individuals.

The town birthday celebration in October was a hoot. It started with a pancake breakfast to pay for new pew cushions in the Methodist church (they raised enough to "cover" the cost and then some).

The tractor show hinted at a distinct preference for "poppin' johnnies" all in their original John Deere green. I guess Farmall must not have been big around here.

We bought several pounds of stone-ground corn meal from this vendor with his old timey mill. The power source was simple and ingenous: a series of car batteries along the front side of the wagon.

We bought things from vendors who had booths set up: crafts, food, pretties.
We visited with neighbors, stuck money in the Volunteer Fire Department's "boot" (again), introduced our bunch and met new people.

The next weekend, we went to our church's Fall Festival & Car Show.   We ate barbeque, bought an amazing wall cross from a local man who makes things out of discarded tools, and picked out our favorite vintage jitneys.

Here, a home-made Carnival benefits a Christian K-12 school (and a winning 6-man football team).

This "Rattlesnake Roundup" game is perfect for Texas.

First the girl would toss the rubber snakes into the bag, then use the special snake-catching tool to grab them & take them out of the sack! It would be a more difficult game (and more realistic) if you had to use the "snake tongs" to throw them in, too.

Speaking of snakes, we saw this non-poisonous one playing dead and looking all dehydrated on Main Street outside the Lions Club BBQ Dinner & Auction. He stayed very still until he thought we weren't looking any more, then he took a deep breath and slithered away.

The dinner was great - it raised money toward the scholarships this group gives to local students each year, toward eye exams & new glasses and for Christmas food boxes for people whose hard work doesn't stretch far enough.
The auction raised a similar amount to directly help a local family that's in need right now.

We wrapped up a week or two later with a fish fry to benefit a hardworking young family in our midst. The father has cancer, and he's unable to work right now. This will help tide them over. They are good people and their neighbors love them - even the ones who don't know them.

Who benefited from all these things? Everyone. Everyone's kids or grandkids are eligible for those scholarships. Our VFD is here and prepared when we need them. Everyone will gather in the church on Christmas Eve. Everyone knows we could count on this community if we needed them: nobody who's done their part when they were able would be forgotten.

All in all, lives will be better for this community's generous heart.

And it was all done in fun and love. With no mandates, and no taxes, and no demands, and no protests. And no fraud, and no graft, and no entitlements.

Because that's how life works in a stable, healthy, Christian, traditional, American community.

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