Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on November 26, 2018. 

It’s 4am on Saturday. I wake up thirsty and amble my way into the kitchen, fill a glass with water and drink it to the last drop. I return to bed and snuggle back under the covers. Warm and comfortable, I fall back asleep.

The first thought that surfaces on that bright and sunny morning goes straight to the boy at the heart of one of the saddest community tragedies that took place in Kamloops, as someone recently called it on the fundraiser page. Jessie Simpson, whom I mentioned in a recent column, questioning whether the justice system betrayed his cause (I think it did.)

Following the savage beating he endured on the morning of June 19, 2016, (he miraculously came out of a 10-month-long coma, and has been relearning some basic skills since,) Jessie cannot get up to get himself a glass of water, no matter how thirsty. He relies on someone else to do it. Nor can he shift his position in bed to make himself more comfortable. He can move but his right arm.

The list of issues that will be with Jessie from here onwards is a long one. His needs are immense and often overwhelming for his mom, Susan Simpson, but she sails through it all with countless hugs and kisses for ‘my Jessie’. She doesn’t plan to give up, ever.

Hence the fundraiser she started almost two weeks ago for Jessie. So they can buy a wheelchair-accessible van, which costs $50,000. People started donating and my hope is that we will not stop until the goal has been reached. It is the season when we’re all planning for gifts for our loved ones; as we should, as we can.

I would urge you to consider adding Jessie’s name to your list if possible. He will not make it home for Christmas this year. Maybe one day he will, but for now his situation is too precarious for that. And his needs too big, but hope is a built-in feature of us humans, so let’s help keep Susan Simpson’s hope for her son alive. Please help Jessie by following this link.

Our community is a heartful one, I wrote about it before because I am constantly amazed at how people choose to contribute to various causes. The Christmas Cheer Fund is one of them. My son is raising his share through the karate dojo he is part of, the Western Karate Academy. The Sensei urges them all to ask around for donations and encourage people to donate for a good cause.

All students pledge to throw a thousand kicks this week during their training sessions. It’s been a decade of kicking and collecting pledges so far and no sign of slowing down. On the contrary. There are many people who need social assistance in Kamloops and we are to help them get to it, as much as we can. Please do.

I know it’s been said many times that people get ‘donor fatigue’ when everywhere they turn, they are being asked to give. It’s true that this time a year one out of three envelopes coming in the mail contains a donation form. If you have a cause you are moved by for whatever reason, it’s easy to lend your heart to it and send a donation each year.

If you are among those who are affected by donor fatigue this time of year, I am asking you to reconsider your position and opt to help people in our community this year.

Having some of your needs taken care of by the generosity of strangers is no small thing. If you were ever in a situation where someone helped and that lifted a big weight off your chest, you know the feeling. Or a mere fraction of it.

That is why I urge you to consider donating to local causes this year (and every year after that, when you can.) Not exclusively of course, but primarily.

It could be any one of us. A single mom trying her hardest to make her child’s life better after a tragedy that befell him simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have been anyone’s child. Let’s be the village that does not leave one parent to her or his own devices when in need.

The same for the Christmas Cheer Fund. We will never know the stories that people who receive help via this fund carry with them. But we can envision their smiles. The renewed hope.

For as long as there are people in need, those of us who can donate cannot get tired of helping. I am a strong believer that giving brings out the best in people. Giving becomes a gift for both giver and receiver. More than anything else, it connects people in ways unknown and unforeseen. It helps us remember neither of us is forgotten in times of trouble.

Oh, one more thing: this time of year, you’ll hear the jingles of the Salvation Army volunteers. Please carry some change in your pocket so you can add to the donations; every little bit helps. That’s the volunteers’ staunch belief as they stand in the cold, smiles and all: that people care.

We do, right?