People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas In Bland

Santa Claus made an early appearance here in Bland yesterday. Cars and pickups lined either side of the road leading into town over at the Bland Ministry Center. Needy families were stopping by to pick up free food, clothing, and childrens' toys. I even saw a trailer that had to have had 60 bicycles on it. And the recipients seemed appreciative that the folks at the Center were there to help out.

The Bland Messenger has more on this fine charity organization:
Local ministry assists many over holiday season
By Wayne Quesenberry, Bland Messenger

When the holiday season brings stress and strain, consider the plight of the Bland Ministry Center.

So far the center has requests from 400 families seeking help through the Christmas project. It anticipates 200 more applications before the Dec. 16 registration deadline.

Operated through the East River Baptist Association, the center depends on donations from churches, businesses, clubs, civic organizations and individuals to support its work. It also relies heavily on volunteers.

A drive by the county's postal workers will provide toys for children in the area this Christmas.

Established 22 years ago, the Bland Ministry Center also provides a clothes closet, a dental clinic and home repair programs. (link)
In one sense, it's depressing to see so many people assemble at one time in one place, the shared purpose of their gathering being a need for food and clothing - with the temperature outside in the teens, snow and ice blanketing the parking lot and walkways, and a chill winter wind blowing. More people will crowd the steps of the Bland Ministry Center at Christmas, it seems, than attend the county fair in summer. It gives one pause. And creates a palpable sense of frustration. I know - and the people amassed on the steps of the Center have come to accept, unfortunately - the fact that nothing is being done to fix the problems that plague this area.

The more congenial side of me wants to recognize that what is playing out at the Bland Ministry Center is the timeless celebration of Christmas as Christians meant for it to be feted. It is gift-giving at its essence. Those who have a few morsels to spare are sharing them with folks who have none. There will, I hope, be a place in heaven for the kind, selfless, and generous folks who make it all happen.

By the way, the article in the Bland Messenger makes mention of the fact that the Bland Ministry Center is going through some hard times, with the implication being that donations became scarce at that point in time when Hurricane Katrina struck and devastated the Gulf Coast. All the charity, seemingly, went south. The generous people at the Center - and the community of Bland - could use your help.

Lend a hand. And have a joyous Christmas.

Home Depot Comes To Bristol

87 people in Bristol are having a Merry Christmas. Home Depot has hired them and put them to work selling everything from nails to nuts, generators to percolators. They may not be high-paying jobs, and many of them are just part-time, but jobs they are. And we appreciate them.
Home Depot open for business at Exit 7
By David McGee, Bristol Herald Courier

BRISTOL, Va. - Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night to mark the opening of the newest big retailer off Interstate 81's Exit 7.

"This is an early Christmas present for the Bristol area," Mayor Doug Weberling said during an opening event for The Home Depot. "We expect it will be a magnet, drawing other businesses to our city." (link)
And they have tools. Lots and lots of tools ... All shapes and sizes. Amperage! Horsepower! Cordless! Men's tools built just for men!

Check it out. Take the boy with you. It's never too early to start teaching him the important things in life.

Well, I Celebrated For a Brief Moment

I just absorbed the good news about Home Depot creating 87 new jobs in Bristol. Then I come across the announcement that Quebecor intends to lay off 70 employees at its Kingsport plant. Ugh.

Quebecor to cut 70 jobs
News Channel 11 Staff Reports

Kingsport, Tenn - A Tri-Cities company is cutting its workforce , laying-off more than 70 workers.

Quebecor World has announced it will cut 75 jobs at its plant in Kingsport. A company spokesman says a slowdown in demand for books is behind the job cuts.

The workers were told of the cutbacks last week, and company officials say the employees were also assured they could be called back if work picks up.

This isn't the first cutback for the Kingsport plant. In 2004, the workforce was cut in half to 450 employees. (link)
Quebecor has cut its workforce by 520 in two years. And the latest round of layoffs announced the week before Christmas. Jesus.

Let's have no talk of hiking trails today. Please.

ANWR Put On Hold

The 10 million barrels of oil that lie beneath the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge will stay there a bit longer. The Senate, in its infinite wisdom, voted to keep it there for a few more months.
Senate Blocks Alaska Refuge Drilling
By H. Josef Herbert, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The long fight over whether to drill for oil in an Alaska wildlife refuge is nowhere near an end. But attempts to open the refuge to oil development - one of President Bush's top energy priorities - received another setback Wednesday as the Senate refused to include the drilling measure in a must-pass defense spending bill.

It was a huge victory for environmentalists and Senate Democrats who argued that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would jeopardize the wild ecosystem that characterizes the refuge's coastal plain where polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other wildlife thrive. (link)
Don't lose heart. That oil isn't going anywhere - at least before we eliminate a few more Democrats from the roster of the world of the aged and feeble-minded, otherwise known as the Senate.

For what it's worth, nearly every Democrat voted to strip ANWR drilling out of the military appropriations bill, as did two Republicans - Mike DeWine of Ohio and that doorknob from Rhode Island - Lincoln Chafee.

Mark my words. This issue will keep coming up. There is an ever greater need for that oil. And we will have it sooner or later.