Editorial: Media rivals joining hands at Christmas
Dec 04, 2013 | 388 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
News media outlets are often asked to help promote community campaigns, especially during the Christmas season when the outreach of spirited organizations embraces a growing number of impoverished families and individuals who struggle to cope with life’s demands.

While it might veer from certain guidelines in journalism, such support is appropriate because it gives newsmen and newswomen the chance to show their softer side. It also provides reporters a much-needed distraction from their traditional world of hard news.

In today’s universities, professors sometimes call it advocacy journalism.

Years ago, such a practice didn’t have a name. It was just called ... being human. But like a rose, and regardless of label, such philanthropy still smells just as sweet.

It is why we encourage this type of outreach, especially during these precious moments of the Christmas season.

On some occasions, news media outlets delve even deeper into their collective conscience by spearheading holiday drives of their own — or at least serving as a willing partner. It is even more heartwarming when media outlets — even those perceived as day-to-day rivals for news, audience and advertising — support the other’s favored campaigns. Such mutual support is based upon a shared cause. That common ground is a love of hometown community and an inborn allegiance to the residents of Cleveland and Bradley County.

One such media drive is The Empty Stocking Fund, a respected 43-year-old outreach whose roots date back to 1945 when the vision of the late Rev. M.E. Littlefield not only led to an endearing ministry through Faith Memorial Church, but also launched the start of a December initiative called the Cleveland Christmas Party for Children.

We encourage wholeheartedly the community’s support of the radio station initiative. Cleveland donors have always stepped up to help. We have no doubt they will again.

Another inspiring family-first endeavor is the William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund, an established 501(c)(3) which is coordinated through the untiring and selfless work of area volunteers. Many are members of First Baptist Church, but a variety of churches, groups and individuals are involved as well. Each is just as important to the cause as the other. The Basket Fund is led by Todd Duggan and his father, Jack.

The Basket Fund is especially close to our heart because it was named in honor of a former Cleveland Daily Banner editor known for his extraordinary sense of community service. The Basket Fund is seeking to raise $28,000 for the purchase and assembly of food staples for some 1,100 local families.

The Empty Stocking Fund hopes to raise one dollar more than last year. In 2012, the campaign received a record amount — approximately $38,000. The fund each year brings an emotional Christmas joy to about 1,000 children.

Ironically, and perhaps even as an indicator of their conjoined passion for community, this year’s drives are climaxing on the same day.

Distribution of the boxes of food by William Hall Rodgers Basket Fund volunteers will take place on Saturday, Dec. 21, at Tri-State Warehouses. A throng of eager children will receive their gifts and clothing at the Cleveland Christmas Party on the same morning from Paul Dana Walker Arena on the Lee University campus.

Here’s some donor information for each cause:

n Rodgers Basket Fund: Donations may be mailed to First Tennessee Bank, P.O. Box 4880, Cleveland TN 37320-4880, or dropped off at First Tennessee Bank at 3870 Keith St. Donors’ names and amounts are periodically published in updates on the front page of the Banner. Requests for anonymity are honored. According to Basket Fund coordinator Todd Duggan, donations will be accepted through mid-January.

n Christmas Party for Children: Pledges may be called in to Mix 104.1 at 614-6499 or 472-6700. Pledges also may be emailed to esf@mymix1041.com. Donors are acknowledged by WCLE DJs on the air. The drive kicked off Monday from the Church of God International Offices. Its grand finale will be held Friday, Dec. 13, from 6 to 10 a.m. from the Professional Development Center at Life Care Centers of America. The four-hour, live remote will include choral entertainment, special guests, plenty of last-day donors and refreshments. Additional details are available at mymix1041.com.

Both are splendid community drives.

Each shows the deepening worth of a pair of news media outlets that see themselves as integral parts of our Cleveland hometown.

We urge donors to perhaps find in their hearts a way to help both causes.

It is Christmas, a time when old news media rivalries should always take a back seat to community need.