THE CHALLENGE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to celebrate the good news in Lancaster County and the surrounding area. Some of these elements are welcome developments economically or for neighborhoods in the region. Others are local stories of success, persistence, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light as we enter what will likely be another dark winter in this long pandemic. All of this uplifting news deserves a brighter spotlight.
In an encouraging story of environmental stewardship, a group that included members of the Landisville Mennonite Church, students from Hempfield High School, Boy Scouts and volunteers from local conservation organizations recently came together to to plant 640 trees and convert 3.65 acres of farmland to grassland and forest, PNL | LancasterOnline’s Mike Andrelczyk reported earlier this month.
The land belongs to the church, which saw the project as “a means of applying ecological justice to the past, present and future,” wrote Andrelczyk.
This is part of what the church sees as its greatest mission beyond its walls.
“The congregation as a whole has always been very aware of others around us, whether it is reaching out to the community with the food bank or helping those who need help driving,” he said. said Brenda Horst, longtime member of the Landisville Mennonite Church.
Christopher Fretz, who helped organize the project and is also a member of the congregation, added, “We certainly see part of our faith as being good stewards of the earth, of the creation that God has given us. … We want to make sure that we leave lands that are a sustainable and healthy environment for future generations to use and enjoy.
Organizers worked with the Chesapeake Bay Alliance to organize the effort. Forested areas can help reduce pollution in rivers.
“It’s really important to have forests all over the land,” Ryan Davis of the Chesapeake Bay Alliance told Andrelczyk. “They prevent rainwater from flowing into the streams. They are a bit like big sponges in the landscape.
The project was multigenerational, as Fretz noted that the volunteers included older members of the congregation and children as young as 5 or 6 years old.
Horst added: “It was very exciting to have people not only from our own congregation, but people from the community helping us with this project. … It was a reminder that it’s not just for us, it’s for the people downstream, and our community and future generations as well.
We commend them all for their efforts, and we’re also happy to see that they may have inspired other local places of worship to undertake similar projects.
In other goods:
– We were greeted, once again, by all the local thank you letters that appeared in the Opinion section of LNP on Christmas Day.
These letters always make us smile, with their stories of random acts of kindness, paying in advance, and anonymous people taking notes in restaurants.
We especially liked the short story of two sisters, ages 10 and 3, who set up a hot chocolate stand in their yard to raise money for Christmas charities. Every little bit counts, and their efforts while sitting outside on a blustery morning made the difference.
We also appreciated the letter from Danielle Peters, director of the Columbia Food Bank, who congratulated all the community groups who have helped to help those who are food insecure.
An excerpt from Peters’ letter:
“It was a cold, dark night when Santa’s elves and the angels that roam the earth visited the Columbia Food Bank. They came under the guise of members of the Mountville Lions Club and Scout Troop 349, boys and girls. The gift they delivered did not fit on Santa’s sleigh, so a U-Haul truck was put into service. In this truck were 5,600 pounds of essential food.
“Through the combined efforts of the Mountville Lions Club, Dayspring Christian Academy, Mountville VFW Reese Hall Post 8757 and the local community at large, this food has been donated, collected and delivered right to our doorstep.”
– Kudos to McCaskey High School sophomore Jerimiah Munoz, a boxer whose recent national championship victory earned him a spot on the 2022 U.S. National Junior Boxing Team.
“This is a first, not only for Munoz and the team at Lancaster City Boxing Academy, where he trains, but for Lancaster”, LNP | LancasterOnline correspondent Stephanie Bradford wrote in a front page article for LNP last week.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment for such a young boxer,” wrote Jamil Ali, president of USA Boxing’s Middle Atlantic Association, in an email. “He managed to achieve this goal by beating the best boxers in the country, which is no easy task.”
Munoz will now have the opportunity to train at the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and may even be able to compete in international boxing events.
– Social media feeds have been filled this month with good deeds and shining moments in local school districts:
Bear Creek School in the Elizabethtown School District hosted its annual Christmas tree and food drive programs, which resulted in more than 100 students receiving gifts purchased by Bear Creek staff members , Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church, St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Northwest Regional Police Department and Department of Corrections.
The Lancaster Mennonite High School Orchestra performed Christmas and classical music for the residents of Lancaster Neighborhood Senior Center.
National Honor Society students at McCaskey High School created 300 greeting cards to distribute at local retirement homes.
And a fifth-grade class from the Lampeter-Strasburg School District selected the Lancaster County Pet Pantry and Caitlin’s Smiles (a regional nonprofit that provides creative arts activities for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses) to its service projects. Students collected pet supplies and made handmade cards to hand out.
And that’s just a small sample of all the good things happening in our schools and communities.