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Reduce. Reuse. Reap a little cash on the side? One of the unpleasant indignities of living on an island in Southeast Alaska is that we are forced — in a very tangible way — to confront how much waste we create. That confrontation comes in the form of a bill. With space at premium, we pay to bale, ship and dispose of much of our trash inside Washington state.

Robert Eugene Chapman, 60, died Feb. 14, 2015, in Ketchikan.
Frances “Pat” Bailey Koons, 82, died Feb. 22, 2015, in Ketchikan.
What we can do

This can be a very difficult time of year, made worse this past Friday by the horrifying murders Friday in a Connecticut elementary school just before the Christmas holiday.

Words cannot sufficiently describe the feelings that follow such a tragic event, which took the lives of 26 people, including 20 children — most of them 6 and 7 years old. Sad, numb, appalled and stricken are obvious word choices. But it's those combined and much, much more.

These young ones were the most innocent of victims. The killer was young, too.

At 20 years old and clearly mentally ill, he killed the children by spraying their classrooms with bullets after murdering his mother. It doesn't make any sense, and undoubtedly after much investigation by authorities, it won't make any sense a month or a year from now, either. Because there is no sense in it.

In Ketchikan, as throughout the nation and around the world, parents and others cannot help but be touched by the tragedy. It makes us ache for the families of the victims, who likely already had shopped, wrapped and placed Christmas presents under a tree for the tykes. We can easily imagine how those kids were as excited about Christmas as most children, eagerly anticipating the Christmas Eve visit of Old St. Nicholas.

The tragedy draws us closer to our own, particularly our children, whether with a few more hugs or in taking steps to make sure they are safe. We might just hug everyone more, and in that touch we can hope the comfort eases even a little of the pain and sadness stirred up by the news of the shootings.

It is as we think about how we can help those in Connecticut that we realize by keeping them in our prayers, and comforting those around us in their life's struggles, that we're doing what needs to be done.

So, let's pray and take care of one another this Christmas season.