Montezuma County is not an affluent place, as most define that word. It's not Westchester County or Summit County or even La Plata County.
Montezuma County, is, though, a great place to live. More to the point, it's a generous place, and the evidence of that generosity is all around us this time of year.
Organizations hang the names of needy children on trees, and generous individuals "adopt," those children, providing gifts that range from clothing to bicycles. Law-enforcement officers take children shopping with funds donated by the M-CHS Student Government Association and supplemented by the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association.
Other organizations collect names of family who need food baskets, and the food to fill them is always available. Dinner is cooked on Christmas day and served to everyone who wants to join in the festivities at the County Annex, and it's delivered to those who cannot get there.
Salvation Army kettles are filled with change, and more than a few bills, and there are always ringers willing to stand out in the cold.
The thrift stores always manage to find warm clothes for those who need them, and the Good Samaritan Center distributes food and other aid.
The "soup kitchens" always have food, thanks to the churches that support them and community members who volunteer. The Bridge Emergency Shelter also depends on volunteers in its mission to provide a safe place for those who have nowhere else to sleep on cold winter nights.
Neighbors shovel walks and look out for one another. Fellow travelers are always ready with a push or a jump when needed. Adults look out for children. Big kids help little kids.
The giving spirit may not be as evident the rest of the year, but it's there. For each of the 365 days of the year, there are a lot of needs in this community, and willing volunteers and contributors do all they can to help meet them.
The Weber Fire provided an example this year. Volunteer firefighters spent many hours protecting local homes, while local citizens in turn provided food and drink for all the emergency workers. Those who had to evacuate were offered many places to go; livestock was moved and fed; many phone calls were made to make sure everyone was safe.
Civic and school organizations are well supported. Rotarians provide dictionaries for third-graders and, through the Imagination Library program, free books for children younger than school age. Community members, including those without school-age children, volunteer in the schools, sharing their talents and education with their community. The animal shelter and humane society find ways to care for stray animals. Local professionals, across the spectrum, contribute their services in numerous ways. At the beginning of the school year, many, many people help provide supplies for local classrooms.
The list goes on and on, and notable contributions have been omitted from this summary. The point, though, is solid: This community cares.
Thank you, all of you. You make this a great place to live.