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Ketchikan is a blessed community.
We say that because it’s the season when it’s difficult not to take notice; it’s the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The community shifts into overdrive this time of year, preparing for the holidays with brightly lit trees and decorations, feasts and parties, sales and shopping and gift-giving.
But it’s more than all of that.
It’s how we go above and beyond the fun for others — often times others we don’t even know personally.
Leading the charge in that regard is about a half dozen groups, which include:
• The Gateway Corp of The Salvation Army, representing Ketchikan, Saxman and Metlakatla.
The church’s mission, like that of other local churches, is to minister to the community. It welcomes all to its services, but it excels in reaching outside of church walls and bringing in the homeless and the poor. It collects food and serves meals weekly; it operates a thrift store of used, but still useable items; it supports people in recovery, and, when the need arose a year ago, it opened its building as an overnight warming center for those with no other place to go.
Other churches undertake similar efforts, but The Salvation Army has been one of the most visible decade after decade, and its signature bell ringers illustrate that; they’ve been out accepting shoppers’ donations since Thanksgiving this year.
• Ketchikan’s homeless shelter, its day shelter and its warming center all reflect the concern and care for those down on their luck. Not only has The Salvation Army been active in this regard, but the United Methodist Church highlights a ministry to the poor. And, again, those churches aren’t alone.
• Women in Safe Homes has been rescuing women, and a few men, from some of the harsh realities of life for years, providing a place to stay when there was no other place to go.
• Love in Action is a conglomeration of local church efforts to minister to the poor and those who need a hand up or a temporary assist in times of economic trouble. Food, clothing, rent and/or utility bill assistance, you name it, LIA is being helpful.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it shows the extensive investment Ketchikan has made in helping others. No one has to go without shelter, food, clothing or opportunity to better their situation.
And this is thanks to the people of Ketchikan. It’s people here who make the donations to support these churches and groups; some are members and some aren’t, but they commonly agree on helping out.
It’s also the people in charge of these groups who guide the staffs and volunteers to connect goods and services with the needy.
This is no small effort. It takes untold time and energy, and personal sacrifice. But, when it’s all done, hearts (and stomachs) are full.
Ketchikan is a very blessed community.
Here, we care enough about each other to truly be called a place of goodwill for all.