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Tanya Hasbargen/United Way: A community of caring in Bemidji

BEMIDJI — Last Sunday, as the sun was going down, I decided to shovel the driveway before the mighty hunters returned from their weekend. So, I bundled up, grabbed the shovel, and began the task. As the snow softly began to fall again, I continued to shovel. As I walked across the driveway, I paused to enjoy the magical beauty of the snowflakes as they flickered light from the house, and my mind began to reflect.

I began to think about how this magical time of year brings out the best in people. The United Way office has had calls every day this past week from people who want to provide gifts, meals and other items to care for our neighbors during the cold winter season, and in particular, through the holidays.

The more involved I have become with the nonprofit organizations in this community, the more I have learned about what resources are available to our neighbors. The Bemidji community has fantastic programs and services to serve our neighbors in need. And, that is their mission, to serve others, not just during the winter months or the holidays, but throughout the year.

My family loves to fill tags from Angel or Mitten trees, and to purchase and donate a meal for a family to enjoy on Christmas Day. Last year, I found tags from a husband and wife on our church’s tree and they wanted groceries. That moment has forced me evaluate things. Do I give to make a difference in that person’s day, or in their everyday? Do I fill a tag or fill a need? The answer may be — both.

This is a magical time of year, and a time to look around at the programs and services that support our community every day. I would suggest you consider looking at the nonprofit agencies in our community, and support them financially, even consider becoming a volunteer. Be part of the United Way’s community campaign, and add your financial gift to those of your neighbors for a greater impact. Your donation, big or small, can make a world of difference in Bemidji.

On Thursday, United Way is holding its Victory Dinner. We will announce the projected results of this year’s community campaign. Businesses and individuals will be recognized for their dedication and contributions to the United Way and the Bemidji community. It’s really an awesome accomplishment when we look at our community — the amount of financial support that comes together, the ability to invest it back into this community’s biggest areas of need, and that it all started with you and your donation.

Thank you for supporting United Way, and for making a world of difference in Bemidji. It’s never too late to donate through your workplace, visit and give online, or mail a donation to the United Way office at Box 27, Bemidji, MN 56619. Make a world of difference right here in Bemidji! Support United Way of Bemidji Area.