‘Look for the helpers’

Dec. 22, 2012 @ 08:26 PM

I saw Saint Nicholas’ workshop last week. Elves dressed in green were busy sorting and arranging toys for girls and boys.
Rather than Lapland, it was at North Carolina. And the green the elves were wearing was of the camouflage variety. And they looked like they could each bench press another person. So this is what Santa’s workshop looks like, I said to the Marine who brought out a box to gather a load of donations to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
They do like to think of themselves as being part of Santa’s workshop, he said. As deliveries came in, they were sorted and gathered in portable storage units. Then nonprofits came to pick them up and take the next step of the journey from the figurative North Pole to the homes of children in poverty. It was all very orderly, as you’d expect from the military. There’s something reassuring about seeing strength used to help the vulnerable.
In the words of the great Mister Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
“Look for the helpers.” The full quote by Mister Rogers recirculated in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy along with a black and white photo of Rogers with a child, taken by photographer Jim Judkis. Once you start looking, you can see helpers everywhere, from first responders to someone holding open a door to Wool E. Claus giving high fives and bringing smiles during a parade.
If you want to be a helper, ask yourself: Am I making things better?
In case you were wondering, why yes, I have been parading it up this month, first with the Parkwood Holiday Parade and then the Bahama Christmas Parade. (And yes, even with those two, we still need the city parade back downtown.)
I asked my son later what he liked best about the Bahama parade. The police and firefighters, he said.
The helpers.
My boy was a firefighter for Halloween, complete with borrowed helmet from a Durham firefighter. For Christmas, he wants dress-up clothes for his other favorite helper, a police officer. To be honest, he likes them because they get to wear badges, too. He’s also a fan of soldiers, which brings us back to the top of my column, about the camouflaged elves.
Helpers are everywhere you look. People are trying to make things better. Merry Christmas!
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at dvaughan@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6563.