It's a word that's all around us, but there are times that its meaning seems just a little more relevant, and this time of year is definitely one of them.
Because this is the time when the value of being a community really comes to the fore.
Throughout the year we are the community of South Canterbury, and at a more local level, the communities of Timaru, Temuka, Geraldine, Waimate, Fairlie and numerous other smaller centres, in the sense of being part of the population of whichever one we're resident in as individuals and as families.
At any time during the year there will be those who are a little marginalised by a variety of factors; from their family situations, to their health, to their employment status and, in a related sense, their financial situations. For those people, being part of a community might not always seem the benefit it's cracked up to be.
But with Christmas around the corner, the marginalisation and possible isolation those people feel has the potential to become just that much more acute. That's where the value of truly being part of a community can kick in.
And in Timaru, and no doubt in other South Canterbury centres, that has traditionally been a particular strength. Donations made to appeals by church and charity groups and service clubs ensure there are food parcels available for those less fortunate at a time of traditional indulgence.
In Timaru, one of the greatest demonstrations of the value of community has come in the form of the community Christmas dinner, which usually caters for some 250 to 300 people. It's not only an opportunity for people to have a traditional Christmas dinner, but also for many who might otherwise be alone to enjoy the company of others. Which was why it was such a disappointment when, some weeks ago, we had to run a story saying the dinner was off this year, due to factors including the lack of suitable coordinators to take charge of various aspects of the event.
Fortunately, we had an inkling that running a story on that situation, as soon as possible, was the one thing that could honestly help to address that situation and that, happily, is how it has turned out. The event is going ahead, and as today's story indicates, various sectors of the community have been and will be involved in making the meal the success it has always been. The public response has shown the real strength of this community, with many contributions from individuals and companies forthcoming.
Christmas Day will be special for many because of that. That's community.
- The Timaru Herald