Fall is a great time of year, and a good time to help

By Darin J. McCann
Executive Editor

Fall is great.

That’s why I make the big bucks as a writer. I can pen things like “Fall is great” and “Water is wet” in such a way that the words just melt into your ears and...

But I digress.

Autumn weather is beautifully centered between “My bare leg keeps sticking to my car seat, and it feels as if someone is peeling off my flesh each time I stand up” and “I’m pretty sure that’s my kid under all those scarves at the bus stop, so I’m going to take him home and hope for the best.”

Schools are back in business, our roads are a little less profanity-inspiring and our fantastic restaurants are open for business — often giving the residents of our oasis by the shore a little love on the prices. To top it off, there are approximately 19,246 festivals and events each weekend day up through the start of November, providing plenty of family- and wallet-friendly activities.

For instance, I took the family to Parsons Farms last weekend to watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on a screen that was large enough to have its own congressman. The three of us shared two popcorns, and the evening cost us a grand total of $2.

Did I mention that fall is great?

It’s particularly special here. There are now more planned events going on in one three-week stretch of fall than there are throughout the entire summer (that is not a statement based on facts, as much as it is inspired by recently laying out the pages for our crazy-long Calendar section this week). There are “Fall Jumbles” and “Fall Festivals” and “Trunk R Treat” events all over, and the vast majority of these events (again, no science behind this statement) are focused on families and children.

My own little one is getting ready to turn 3 in a few weeks, and this is the first year she has been truly excited about Halloween. She’s already been spotted running around the house dressed like Buzz Lightyear, and I’ve had to stop her a few times on our evening walks from approaching our neighbors’ homes in search of candy. To be fair, she’s had to stop me a few times, as well, but that’s for another column.

She’s excited, and all of these fun fall events just make her more excited. The more she enjoys going to these things, the more I want to take her to them. It’s honestly not about spoiling her and giving in to her every want, it’s about finding things we can all do together, preferably outside and away from the soul-draining power of the television.

Plus, it’s important to us that she sees how many people volunteer their time and energy to not only give people a really fun memory, but in many cases, to raise money or supplies for other people who would like some fun memories of their own, or need a little help when times are tough.

I got a call early Wednesday morning from a local woman who we have featured in the paper before for her charitable efforts. The woman, Margie Biasotto, was telling me about how her family, and many others in our community, have houses in Puerto Rico, and there has obviously been a lot of concern for these homeowners since the island was pummeled by a recent hurricane.

Obviously, they are concerned about their properties, and some of their favorite spots on the island, but they are also worried about the people they have met down there over the years, and have been keeping abreast of the news to see how the entire recovery process has been going.

Biasotto told me about one Puerto Rican friend she had been talking with, and how he had explained to her that a lot of the people down there have basically lost everything. They have been getting help in terms of food and water, but it has been upsetting to see the children, so out of sorts with the constant change and upheaval around them. And he pointed out that the children, while receiving food and water, have no toys to play with, and how that has saddened him, as well.

Well, this thought shook Biasotto, and pushed her into action. She found an individual who will fly the toys she is able to collect down to Puerto Rico. She reached out to Peninsula Community Church (PCC) to ask if they would serve as a drop-off location for people who want to help, and got a resounding “yes.” We hung up, and she called back a short time later to inform me that Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church would also serve as a drop-off spot.

The wheels were officially in motion, and her enthusiasm had me excited as well. I thought about my own daughter, and how she often turns to her toys when she gets tired, or is upset about how I maybe got angry with her for trying to tie the dog’s tail to the ceiling fan. There are some toys that simply provide her comfort, and I figured there must be a lot of children in Puerto Rico who are looking for some comfort right now.

One remarkable, consistent, awe-inspiring element of this community is its collective desire to help out when a hand is needed. We saw representatives from nearly every organization in our area host efforts to send supplies or money to Florida and Texas after storms devastated those communities, and Puerto Rico and Las Vegas have been the latest hotspots to get our attention.

But this element with the children needing toys... Well, this struck a nerve with me. No, it doesn’t seem as pressing as food or water or blood or any other way people typically get involved, and it’s probably not. But you might be able to give a kid some comfort or a needed smile, and that seems awfully important, too.

You can drop off toys at Mariner’s or PCC, or call Margie directly at (302) 200-2619.