Editorial: A real treat on Halloween

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 31, 2011

Thereís never a shortage of news that can make you question human nature. Each day, there are headlines about injustices and cruelties inflicted by one individual upon another ó homes robbed, people shot and stabbed, frauds perpetrated upon the elderly, abuse inflicted upon the young and any number of other atrocities.
And then thereís Linda Worthís story, which appeared in Saturdayís Salisbury Post. Worth was on the verge of losing the rented home she shares with a quadriplegic son and 16-year-old niece because she had fallen behind on her gas bill, threatening the continuance of her Section 8 housing assistance. Even with financial aid from Rowan Helping Ministries and the Salvation Army, she didnít have enough to money to pay her back bills and restore gas service. The situation looked bleak, although Worth said she maintained faith things would work out.
That faith, it turns out, was well placed. Within a few hours after the newspaper hit the streets, dozens of readers had phoned the Post, wanting to help. The phones continued ringing Monday, and not just at the newspaper. People were also calling local aid agencies, as well as Linda Worth herself. Thanks to their generosity, sheíll pay off her utility bills and spend a warm, comfortable winter in the house on Craig Street.
Whatís exceptional about this story isnít the communityís generosity ó weíve seen past instances where a hard-luck story touched soft hearts, whether itís a family burned out of their home or a child needing expensive medical care. Whatís different here is volume of the response and the economic circumstances in which it occurred. As the Postís recent series on poverty showed, many families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. In Rowan County, about 21 percent of the population lives in poverty. Nationwide, one in six Americans lives below the poverty level. Many of those who offered to help Worth probably have financial concerns of their own. Maybe theyíre retirees living on fixed incomes, or maybe theyíre still working and wondering if theyíll ever be able to retire. Yet they dug into their pockets to help someone in need.
While this story had a happy ending, it goes without saying thereís still a lot of need out there. Organizations such as the Salvation Army and Rowan Helping Ministries see streams of new clients seeking help paying utility bills or stocking home pantries (a need the Post hopes to help fill through its Can Do food drive). You canít always change the headlines, but thereís always an opportunity to help someone in need.