I.C. MURRELL — Giving happens every day. It’s highlighted during holidays.

Published 12:02 am Friday, December 4, 2020

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When someone is in need of a meal, Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas’ Hospitality Center on Gulfway Drive is ready to feed, although gathering inside the soup kitchen is not an option during the coronavirus pandemic.

When Port Arthur businesses like Mike’s Furniture and EcoWerks see they are blessed beyond measure because they’ve earned the trust of the public, they give back to the public, whether it’s hauling in 500 turkeys and some trimmings for Thanksgiving for a giveaway or donating checks to feeding organizations ahead of Christmas.

When a lady stands in front of a gentleman with plenty in her cart, the gentlemanly thing to do is pick up the 24-pack of bottled water and place it on the track toward the register. Hey, it’s an act of giving.

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When the lady then says, “You know what that means, right? You’re getting blessed today,” it’s a microscopic case of the aforementioned scenarios that can occur in Port Arthur — that giving season lasts 365 days.

Surely, I don’t rest my wellbeing on the generosity of others, as I’ve been blessed to make the most of what God has given me. That alone spurs me on to reach out to others as a journalist and a citizen.

For that matter, I don’t expect anything in return for a small gesture.

But, on this day, talking the woman out of paying a small grocery tab for helping her pick up a pallet of water on a bad back was a losing battle. Too bad no one was behind me to bless.

The spirit of giving is anything but a losing battle. The lessons learned (and relearned, in this case) are giving is a gift, we are our brother’s keeper and it takes all of us to survive.

The $5,000 gift EcoWerks CEO Michael Laws gave to the United Board of Missions, Hospitality Center, Orange Christian Services and St. Vincent de Paul’s Society of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Orange are gifts that will keep on giving at a time when food insecurity is a growing issue in our area. Each of the charities received $1,000 with Port Arthur’s United Board of Missions receiving an extra $1,000 toward its Meals on Wheels program.

Port Arthur native Fr. Sinclair Oubre, who pastors St. Francis of Assisi Church, said the St. Vincent de Paul’s Society typically offers gift cards to needy families, and Orange Christian Services usually makes food baskets.

“The great thing about these organizations is there are no prerequisites on who they feed,” Laws said.

He also added people in need often seek human interaction rather than just food when they seek help.

Some of us who are not originally from Port Arthur or Southeast Texas like human interaction, period, through the means of reaching out to others. Laws, a native of Australia, found it during a roundtable with representatives of the local charities Wednesday.

“Maybe we could inspire others to help,” he said. “I started [EcoWerks] 21 years ago sleeping in my car after my second divorce. I had nothing in the area. Today, I’m lucky to have more than I need.”

Stories of success are motivating. Maybe one day Laws will share in depth that great story about rising to the top from humble beginnings, but there’s no rush. We as a community have other pressing matters.

It sounds cliché, but we have neighbors in need, and a helping hand may give them a much needed leg up.

Don’t look to the size of the bank account to measure your ability to give back. That comes from the heart.

Keep your conscience clear, and it’ll lead you to your giving purpose.


I.C. Murrell is the editor of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.