CHEERS to all the volunteers who ring the bell for the Salvation Army this holiday season. The organization’s Red Kettle drive is the charity’s most visible and important fundraiser. The money raised isn’t just used around the holidays but throughout the year. Of course, everyone who volunteers to help cash-strapped charities in our area deserves praise. Non-profit groups usually have very small staffs and would be lost without volunteer help. But few organizations have to deal with the handicap that makes volunteering for the Red Kettle drive especially challenging: standing outside in the cold. If you are ringing the bell, most of the time you are outdoors, exposed to the elements, and, on some days, no amount of bundling up can save the North Country wind from penetrating to your very core. But every winter, generous volunteers brave cold toes, fingers and noses to stand by those kettles and jangle the bell. While we’re on the subject, CHEERS to businesses that allow the bell-ringers to set up shop inside. It is hard enough to get people to give their time to the effort — paid ringers have to be hired every year to fill the gaps — and certainly more people would volunteer if they knew the circumstances were more cozy. So next time you put some money into the kettle, you may want to offer a word of thanks to the bell-ringers for their fortitude.
CHEERS to Reality Check for years of effort in spreading the word about tobacco dangers. No matter where you stand on the issue of smoking bans, you must acknowledge that the effort to keep young people from starting on cigarettes is a worthy one. No one wants to see teens hooked on a habit that could cause them health issues for life. Reality Check’s aim is awareness; the statewide, youth-propelled organization makes sure peers know they are being targeted by tobacco marketing. Reality Check of Clinton, Franklin and Essex Counties recently held its second-annual youth training, dubbed We Want Change, at the Clinton County Department of Health. Twenty-six teens from area schools participated in games and discussions “designed to demonstrate the skills needed to be a successful activist,” Reality Check Program Director Dana Isabella said. “Teens learned the value of communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, preparation and persuasion throughout the day and were encouraged to take an active role in their communities as advocates.” Isabella, who deserves a nod herself for all she has done since the local program started in 2001, said she is “continually impressed with the incredible ideas that these young people have. I’m proud to work for a program that helps teens recognize that those ideas can help create lasting change in their world, that they have that power.” The Press-Republican has covered numerous Reality Check events over the years, and we are impressed with the dedication and persistence of its members.
— If you have a Cheers and Jeers suggestion that you want the Editorial Board to consider, email it to Editor Lois Clermont at firstname.lastname@example.org.