Archived Story

Small town, big heart

Published 9:50pm Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why would anyone want to live in a small town?
We’re surrounded by examples all the time, but especially during holidays, when hearts swell with generosity.
Particularly heartwarming was the example Indian Lake Fire Department and their comrades in the fire service set with a Christmas Eve gift brigade led by Santa Claus, three firetrucks and a van crammed with wrapped gifts, food and clothing to Baymont Inn and Suites.
Their mission was simple: save Christmas for Scott and Morgan Roberts’ four children, Taylor, 8; Cody, 7; Connor, 5; and Tanner, 4, who lost their lifelong home and possessions in a fire Dec. 17, including their new tree and purchases from Santa’s secret shop at Sister Lakes Elementary School.
The outpouring “overwhelmed” the family.
“They’ve gone above and beyond” being a “drop point,” Mrs. Roberts said. “I can’t thank them enough.”
Another Santa is Lou Dominion of Deals and Wheels, who for a decade has given vehicles away and this year extended the offer of a car to his Dowagiac store.
Dominion brightened the holiday for Ashley Dunivan of Dowagiac, who was grateful she no longer had to ferry her two children in a rusty minivan with 262,000 miles.
Deals also awarded $1,000 in repairs to Marsha Best of Dowagiac.
“We’re happy to help,” Dominion said Tuesday from Benton Harbor. “Christmas is about giving. We try to help people as much as we can.”
So does C. Wimberley Auto Group, which last year started a blitz with other businesses and churches which raised $7,000 in one week for 41,000 pounds of food, or enough to fill the Ford showroom three times.
“If you’re not one of the people who need help, you should help,” sales consultant Dale Dandurand said.
There’s the World Wide Web and then there’s whatever you would call partnerships developed here, like Ridge Napa Auto Parts,  Zeta Chi Sorority and Dowagiac Middle School working together to furnish 16 local families with a week’s worth of groceries.
“At a time when our community is struggling to make ends meet, the support was overwhelming.” said Dan Mather, Ridge manager, who has been doing this for years.
A $1,750 donation from Indian Lake Fire Department went to Pokagon United Methodist Church for its backpack program that bolsters children’s weekend nutrition. This program is completely funded by donations and costs approximately $250 a week to feed 17 children.
Why would anyone want to live in a small town?
Because it’s comforting in tough times to know that even strangers have your back.

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