Good Giving But Do You Believe

December 19, 2005
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Mercantile Bank of Michigan played Santa for the children and families at D.A. Blodgett for Children; Kent County Sheriff's Department deputies took children shopping for holiday presents (and in some cases, coats); the Grand Rapids Jaycees packed mini vans full of children to wander the toy aisles at Meijer. Comerica Bank West Michigan employees brought toys and goods to the children at Baxter Community Center, and the corporate office cut a $3,350 check to provide operations assistance. Fifth Third Bank donated computers to Westwood Middle School. Habitat for Humanity last week donated its 200th Habitat home and Second Story properties was closer to its goal of collecting 4,000 pounds of food for shelter and meal programs. WOOD TV8 has Angel Trees growing gifts around town and WZZM Channel 13 collected 20,000 Toys for Tots.

In the space of just one week, the above paragraph is only a fraction of goodwill and giving in this community. It does not include the donations to the Red Cross or Salvation Army for local concerns and Hurricane Katrina victims. We might be able to fill this publication with the names of businesses contributing in a multitude of ways to the community needs.

The business community must take as thanks the fact that only one other community in the country does as much in charitable giving.

And such expressions of using profit for community needs must continue.

As this season of goodwill gives way to the New Year, it is obvious that the opportunities and needs in 2006 are enormous. Pledges are needed to sustain some basic quality-of-life institutions in this community.

MichiganStateUniversity must raise millions of dollars to open the doors of its recently announced WestMichiganMedicalSchool

The Grand RapidsArt Museum needs another $10 million in endowment funds.

The John Ball Zoo leadership, which has put off necessary and basic reconstruction and expansion while abiding by community suggestions, must begin its campaign in earnest.

The Public Museum of Grand Rapids Van Andel Museum Center is launching a fundraising campaign to sustain it as city subsidies are severed.

The Great Lakes Division of the American Cancer Society needs another $2 million for Hope Lodge, the only such facility in Michigan

The Civic Theatre restoration is but a piece of a planned theater "section" of the city.

The Grand Action Committee is again discussing plans for an outdoor arena in the downtown.

Meanwhile, city, county, school and state service cuts and budget reductions are wreaking havoc across the board. Unique economic motivators like Festival of the Arts and the Neighborhood Business Specialist Program are threatened or cut.

Institutional and business leaders acknowledge the growth of programs and plans, as the community grows, and they are all the more important when one understands the vital significance of the Grand Rapids metro area to the entire state. Grand Rapids may be second in charitable donations, but only in this community do people say they believe.    

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