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Dicy McCullough: Many ways to serve community

By Dicy McCullough
A few months ago I wrote a story about the West Rowan community of Bear Poplar. As some of you know, the name of the community came about because a bear was seen climbing a poplar tree. John Steele, owner of the historical Steele Feed and Seed in Bear Poplar, helped me with details in that story and then elaborated on others.
At one time, Steele Feed and Seed was not only a store but also housed the Bear Poplar Post Office, with Johnís grandmother, Margaret Steele, as post mistress. When she passed away, Johnís dad, Hall Steele, took over running the post office. John remembers, as a little boy, going early in the mornings to sort the mail. He said, ěWe knew better than to keep the locals waiting. There were always four or five at the door when the mail arrived around 7. Theyíd come inside, get their mail, maybe a snack or two, and then sit for about twenty minutes talking about the local ënews.í î
The local news usually consisted of the weather, maybe comparing rain amounts or whose barn had been the coldest the night before. Local current events such as who was sick or had passed away, who was getting married and who had a new baby also might be discussed.
While it is true the post office has contributed to the development of communities and towns across America, local civic organizations and clubs have contributed as well. The role of civic organizations has been important in the development of services such as volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. John said, ěWhen soldiers came home after World War II, they felt a need to show their civic duty.î In the West Rowan area, the Mt. Ulla Lions Club was the first to give money to start the Mt. Ulla-Bear Poplar volunteer fire department.
The evidence of community service by these organizations is still evident in the West Rowan area even today. For example, the Cleveland Lions Club sponsors the Joe W. Hall Memorial breakfast each year to raise money for scholarships for local students. It also sponsors the Cleveland Christmas Parade, one of the most popular in the area. Children know lots of candy will be thrown their way, and they also enjoy seeing the horses. Other events and fundraisers during the year are blood drives, a fall brunswick stew, the Christmas barbecue and selling brooms. The Cleveland Lions Club also collects eyeglasses and hearing aids to give to those in need. Terry Moore, a member since 1977 said, ěOver the years, individuals who have been helped often write letters of appreciation. This is especially true of those who have received eyeglasses or hearing aids because they are so thankful to finally be able to see or hear.î
The strength of our nation has traditionally been built on the strength of our communities, with that strength coming from men and women willing to give time, money and in some cases, life and limb for a cause they feel worthy. In this economy, with uncertainty looming ahead, we need each other more than ever. We often think about presents at Christmas time, but the greatest gift we can give is of ourselves. In terms of dollars and cents, thatís free, yet the return is so much more. Perhaps you can look around this holiday season and find an organization that needs help with a project and volunteer your time. You will be glad you did and so will the organization you choose.

Dicy McCulloughís second book, ěTired of School,î is available on amazon.com, dicymcculloughbooks.com and at local bookstores. Contact her at 704.278-4377.

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