Stop the presses! (Insert well-known name here) is about to do something nice! Send a camera!
Especially this time of year, we in the newsroom receive press releases and emails almost daily from your elected and appointed officials, from your sports teams, from your local celebrities announcing, as Big Important News, the time and place we should send cameras to document them doing their acts-of-kindness. And we cover them. The bigger the name, the more likely we will be there with a camera.
We also get calls for coverage from all over South Florida's general population of people who participate in all kinds of charitable work. The requests are markedly different. They want the press for the cause, not themselves. Do we go? Maybe once in a while, if it's truly visual or interesting to a wide audience.
So, if we don't cover the Big Name Once-A-Year-Santas, would they still be as actively charitable? Would they expend the time and effort if no one was watching?
I would like to think "yes." I guess I just feel better believing people are generally good and have good intentions that drive the act of giving back, of serving others, of making the community a better place.
They shall remain nameless here because you already know their names. You know their names because they spend a lot of time and effort promoting themselves. And there is plenty of image-crafting self-promotion in staged appearances where the cameras will show them hugging sick kids, giving toys to impoverished children and turkeys to their parents, comforting the grief-stricken. (Sometimes, they use your tax dollars to do so, which means YOU should be credited for the good deed, but I digress...)
Every day, all around our community, people are donating money, showing up to assist people in need, giving of themselves to lift up someone they may not even know.
How about those secret Santas who anonymously pay off layaway bills for families they will never meet?
How about the South Florida funeral home owner who quietly arranges and donates the services and burials to young victims of senseless violence?
How about my friend who started a foundation, spends most of her time and thousands of dollars providing resources to financially-struggling inner city kids and their families?
Those people make differences in someone's life every day. And they do not call for a camera. Because, as they will tell you, it's not about them.
Which brings me to a request: When you are about to do something nice for someone, please send a press release to our newsroom. Heck, send notice to every newsroom in South Florida, noting when and where we can send cameras to cover your act of kindness or charity. Let's get everyone in the community to flood newsrooms with plans and details of impending acts of kindness and charity by those who don't have marquee names and images to build.
What a feel-good flood of information that would be.
And who knows? Maybe we'll send a camera!