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The art of selfless giving is hard to master.
Especially in 2012.
At this same time last year, then-high school junior Blake Roach promised himself that he’d pursue his mission to erect a 9/11 memorial in front of the Anderson County high school, even if he didn’t make his promised groundbreaking deadline of Sept. 11, 2011.
That deadline long gone, Blake said he hopes he can just see this project through until more final deadline — his graduation in May.
Blake’s original sketch and plan for the memorial had to be scrapped because of building costs.
He said he’s happy with the simplified compromise — a 5-foot tower made of mountain stone inset with a brass plaque — but not happy with the lack of response.
“It makes me realize what this country’s coming to, that’s for sure,” the now-high school senior said.
Instead of last year’s hope, I heard disappointment in Blake’s voice, a sense of frustration in understanding why it was so difficult to raise money for a good cause.
“If it was up to me, [the memorial] would be up tomorrow, or this afternoon,” Blake said, laughing.
He’s not the only one.
Charitable institutions — religious, non-profit and higher education entities — have all suffered, much like everyone else since the onset of the recession.
According to a June 2012 report from the Chronicle of Higher Education, charitable giving in the United States is 11 percent less than what was given back in 2007. Religious institutions suffered the most, given the direct decline of church membership, and charitable giving to development and relief work overseas only grew a fraction from last year.
“Cutting back,” I guess, includes cutting back on giving back.
Blake’s attempt to fund a 9/11 memorial isn’t the only example of a lack of giving.
It’s to the point where our school children have to hawk products in order to go on field trips and receive playground equipment.
Where once-flush charities and non-profits must practically beg people so that their services can continue.
Everyone has the right to prioritize their giving and to whom or what they give.
But before anyone jumps to the conclusion that “the economy” created heightened selfishness, I think it’s best to remind ourselves of how much people in the Anderson County community do give.
Members of the community rallied around the family of Cody Ramsey following his death, most recently with a tractor and truck tug in the county park. Hundreds of people attend and walk for Relay for Life each year.
It would be incorrect to say that charitable giving in Anderson County has come to an end.
David Montgomery, of the non-profit food bank Open Hands, said the food pantry has seen a little bit of a decline in terms of monetary donations, but he couldn’t say anything bad about Anderson County people helping out.
“But we’re still making our bills, stuff like that. We’re doing pretty good. Yeah, it has declined a little bit, but Anderson County is tremendous about helping out, helping others,” Montgomery said.
Although Blake was disappointed in the overall fundraising response, he only needs $600 to complete his project.
That must mean someone, somewhere, is still giving back despite what the economy has taken away.
Comment at theandersonnews.com or follow staff writer Meaghan Downs on Twitter at @ANewsMDowns.