Matt Knutson: Support community with gift to United Way

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, December 21, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife, By Matt Knutson

“I wonder what she thinks of that snow globe,” I remarked to my wife as our daughter hastily shook it up and down. Little flecks of glitter were dashing about in a handheld wonderland with Gracelyn vigorously trying to understand exactly what was going on in such a tiny sphere. There’s always something a bit magical about snow globes, especially on years where we don’t have copious amounts of snow on the ground in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas. While we can’t always control that, we can always pick up a snow globe, shake it about and momentarily create our own winter wonderland.

If only those snow globes were our true reality. Unfortunately, they only exist in the palm of our hand or classically displayed on a holiday-themed shelf a few weeks out of the year. How wonderful would it be to escape into their scenery for just a moment? A brief retreat into a perfectly crafted winter wonderland would bring many of us joy with Christmas being so near. I can imagine the crew from the 1960s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer coming to life and giving so much hope to all those in need.

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Of course hope does little when it is trapped inside a snow globe. As much as we all might want an escape, so much good comes when we’re together. The holidays are a great unifier, where even the grinchiest of people can have their heart swell a size or two because of the impact someone has on them. That can’t happen, however, if we keep our hope inside that little snow globe. We must not forget, it is more than the grinches who need our help this time of year.

With 2017 wrapping up, it’s important to look at what we’ve done to ensure 2018 will help make our community stronger. How are you supporting those most in need? While our most valuable community organizations may be seeing an influx of support around the holiday season, sustaining support is what allows them to keep their doors open. There’s an incredible network of assistance available, but without collaboration, these services won’t reach their full potential.

When I saw United Way of Freeborn County might not reach its goal this year, I began to wonder about what the impact might be on those most vulnerable. By casting a wide net, United Way provides wide-ranging support that is critical to providing long-term solutions to individuals and communities in need. Their uncompromising focus on advancing educational opportunities, improving health and increasing financial stability is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty, and they’re able to do it because they’re not doing it alone. Together, with nonprofits, government, business leaders, individual donors, volunteers, and more, they’re building the community that you want to live in. But they simply can’t do that without your help.

As much as we may want to, we can’t stay isolated in our happy little snow globes and expect positive change in the community. While retreating to our own place of comfort is natural, too many people can’t even imagine the joy that Gracelyn experienced as she shook up her miniature snow world. You can provide that community-changing gift this holiday season, but even more importantly, you can provide that gift year-round. Take the opportunity to provide hope to your friend, neighbor, co-worker and even stranger at the store by supporting your community with a gift to United Way this season. The little flecks of glitter that delighted my daughter’s eyes may not magically appear in front of you when you make your gift, but they’ll be ever present to the countless local people who will benefit from it.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.