Editorial: Calls for help rise this season

    As children in need begin receiving Christmas gifts from the annual Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund this morning, the needs of struggling families are rising this holiday season.

    Some 2,840 Bartholomew County children were registered to receive help through the Holiday Helpline, which coordinates charitable efforts each season. “That means our numbers are up by over 500 from last year – and I don’t know why,” Volunteer Action Center director Alicia Monroe told The Republic’s Mark Webber this week.

    “We will do our best to either serve them within the organizations that can help, or recruit donors,” Monroe said. “The community always comes forward, and really tries to make it happen, so every child has something under the tree.”

    Supporting organizations such as the Cheer Fund, Toys for Tots, Shop With a Cop, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program and others is a gift to the recipient as well as the giver. For those who are able to help, your gifts will be especially valuable this year.

    COVID hazard pay good use of relief money

    The last couple of years have been tough all over, but especially for those who work serving the public. County employees who faced hazards through the pandemic will be getting a small but meaningful bonus for their efforts.

    Bartholomew County Commissioners this week voted to use a bit of the $8 million in federal COVID relief money coming to the county as “employee premium pay” — $1,500 for 227 full-time workers and $750 for 23 part-timers.

    That makes a nice holiday bonus, but it also is an expression of appreciation for the effort these public servants provided and continue to provide through difficult circumstances that persist.

    While the county and city are understandably being cautious in how they use these funds from the American Recovery Act, using a tiny bit in this way was an easy decision. Public servants make many unheralded sacrifices, often while earning less than their peers in the private sector. It’s important to recognize their dedication, and this is a perfect way to do that.

    Planning to have even better parks

    Parks are a marker of a community’s values, and while Columbus has much to boast about, plans for the coming five years will build on our facilities and offerings. As our city grows, more park space is needed. And parks, too, are a key element in keeping a thriving city growing.

    The plan to convert the FairOaks Mall to an indoor athletic center and parks office facility is the centerpiece of the master plan for 2022-2027 that is now in the works, but there is much more. Along with adding more space for parks, the plan also calls for adding more bikeways, trails and natural areas while improving existing facilities.

    Sounds like a plan — one that will make our city’s parks even more appealing.

    Graduation walks make welcome return

    Few traditions are as memorable and celebratory as the pomp and circumstance of a graduation ceremony. This tradition was among the many things COVID took from local college students and their families and friends.

    But next year, Ivy Tech Columbus and IUPUC plan a return to full graduation ceremonies that family and friends will be able to attend. Ivy Tech’s last two graduation ceremonies were virtual, and IUPUC last year had an in-person ceremony, but only graduates could attend.

    Ivy Tech tentatively plans a commencement on May 14 at Columbus North High School and IUPUC’s ceremony will be at the campus on May 12.

    Imagine warm May days celebrating scholars’ successes. Can you believe that’s less than five months away?