News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 12, 2014

EDITORIAL: Warm hearts melt the frost

Winter’s chill can’t freeze kind actions

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — This frigid, snowy winter has dealt harsh circumstances for Wabash Valley residents, but warm hearts have responded in the tough times. The list of noble gestures grew this week and deserves notice.

• The Vigo County School Corp. admirably expanded its important food backpack program, helping to keep youngsters fed during the days when the weather is at its worst.

The school district’s project sends backpacks of healthy foods home with needy kids each weekend. This winter, though, schools have been out of session several days because of bitter-cold temperatures and heavy snowfall; children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches may need extra take-home food to cover those days. By coordinating with the city of Terre Haute officials, the Terre Haute Fire Department and other Vigo County fire departments, the students’ family members can go to their nearest fire station and pick up a food backpack on days when school has been canceled.

The expanded program will now be in place November through April each school year.

Those bags of peanut butter, jelly, apple sauce, Vienna sausages and crackers make a difference to a family struggling to pay the rent, keep the heat on, and buy gas and groceries. The program represents a model of kindness.

• Just as thermometers plunged to 16 degrees below zero Tuesday night, residents of Hymera lost power after an automobile crashed into a utility pole at 2 a.m. Sullivan County rallied immediately, with its Emergency Management Agency contacting the nearby Shelburn Fire Department, which set up a warming station at the Shelburn Community Center.

One obstacle to the relief effort remained because, without power, alerting Hymerans of the shelter’s availability became tricky. Emergency officials used Facebook, cellphones and even word of mouth to spread the information. Marvin Padgett of the Shelburn Fire and Rescue squad used the public-address speaker on a service vehicle to shout the news to people huddled in their chilly houses. Those who took advantage of the open community center received food, drinks and blankets from the Sullivan County Salvation Army Service Extension Unit.

Duke Energy crews also braved the icy air and restored power to 1,100 affected customers within hours, and the remaining 400 customers by noon.

That’s benevolent community team work at its best. Bravo, Sullivan County.

• Winter could not prevent one of the community’s most heart-warming annual events, the Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Fame induction ceremony conducted Sunday afternoon at VFW Post 972 in Terre Haute. The nonprofit group enshrined 15 veteran guitar pickers, drummers, bassists, horn players and singers, boosting the Hall’s roster to more than 200 musicians. They filled Post 972 with music in a celebratory jam session, and lots of smiles.

Bassist Brian Blakemore summed up the emotions of the inductees, saying, “All the practicing and all the listening to songs actually paid off. I’m so honored. I thank God for giving me the talent.”

Hall board member Rick Waggoner said the Class of 2014 represent “the people that make the music.” Their big day made a frosty February a bit warmer. Our thanks to all of them.