Photos tell many tales of generosity

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They’re known dismissively as check-passer photos, grip’n’grins, photo fillers on slow news days.

With very few exceptions, daily newspapers from sea to shining sea have stopped publishing photos where people are gathered around a check, written out to a local charity in the hopes of perpetrating some good in the community.

The Press remains one of those exceptions. Ben Rutherford reminded us why we continue to put a spotlight on this generally boilerplate exercise with his recent letter to the editor.

“I have lived all over the world but this community is the most caring, compassionate and giving that I have ever seen from Press Christmas for All, Toys for Tots, Veterans Stand Downs and a host of others,” wrote Big Ben, the driving force behind our community’s Toys for Tots drives. “I picked up The Press on Saturday morning and marveled at all the photos of companies, organizations, etc., with their checks to worthy entities.”

The photos are scattered throughout the paper many times during the year, giving readers snapshots without seeing the whole photo album documenting the magnitude of charitable giving here.

In October, the newspaper’s editorial board debated whether publishing these photos still matters to readers, seeing as how many check-passers are fairly indistinguishable from all the rest and rarely generate much reader feedback. If this type of photo is still relevant, why is it that we couldn’t identify another daily newspaper that routinely prints them?

One of the reasons is that it’s entirely possible this level of giving doesn’t exist in many other places. And maybe keeping a tangible if incomplete account of local giving actually encourages it.

Regardless, this community’s generosity is seemingly boundless. Rutherford pointed out that Toys for Tots went from being desperate for help in late November to fulfilling the wishes of 701 local families at Christmas. He mentioned Press Christmas for All, which fell slightly short of goal but still made a $182,000 investment in the community.

The Salvation Army and its great folks at the Kroc Center met their Red Kettle goal, and as some of the donation photos published on Saturdays have indicated, even smaller efforts to lend assistance all had positive impacts throughout the region. Taken as a whole, from toys to food to tools and tires, thousands of locals received the blessings of their compassionate neighbors this holiday season.

Here’s hoping local benevolence continues through 2020 in its most contagious state. We happen to know a newspaper that’s looking forward to sharing the good news.

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