, Newburyport, MA

December 15, 2009

American generosity is unique in the world

To the Editor:

As a French citizen living in the United States, I am often asked by my friends and family in Europe what it is that I like most about this country and why I've stayed here so long.

I know that in their French minds, they think it can't possibly be the food, the fashions or the entertainment that keeps me here, so what is it about America that is so much better? After describing the beautiful area that I live in, the opportunities that are available, the casual way of life and so on, I tell them that there is one aspect of the American culture that I think is unique. Americans are incredibly generous, compassionate and considerate. This is the land of volunteerism, of fundraising and of giving to those who are less fortunate.

This is even more evident to me this time of the year when I called upon my friends and colleagues to participate in an annual gift-giving program, called Ozzie's Kids, aimed at providing warmth and some joy to children in our surrounding community.

Ozzie's Kids was founded by Officer Osmond (Ozzie) Hardy to provide some sort of a holiday for children at risk in the Haverhill area with whom he has direct contact. Officer Hardy meets with families on his beat who are squatting somewhere in the city, living in cars, unheated apartments and/or basements and gathers names of children whom he deems are the neediest; people who, for whatever reason, have fallen under the radar.

I was concerned this year that we would not be able to sponsor as many children as we have in the past given the bleak economic climate and the financial stress many of us are under.

I underestimated the American spirit and once again was overwhelmed by the desire and willingness of so many to participate and the generosity expressed in the hundreds of gifts that were dropped off at my house to be delivered for this cause.

I would like to thank the following businesses and families who never look for recognition but whose generous contributions are praiseworthy: Mark and Lisa Werner, Alyson O'Hara, Michelle Hall, Cynthia Novotny, Alicia Greco, Susan Tierney, Joanna True, Scott and Lea Eliot, Tim and Judy McCaffrey, Dale and Robin Williams, Jayne McElroy, Jennifer Lapham, Scott and Judith Bowden, Chris and Sarah Beevers, Dan and Christine Brown, Dave and Mary Rimmer, Jane Tallent, Craig and Stacey Seward, Heidi Winslow, Spencer and Lisa Purinton, Todd and Janet Gustafson, Steven and Adrienne Belt, Doreen Bayko and Children's Health Care, Pat O'Connor and AIM Mutual, Tom and Mollie Hoopes, Pam and Dave Kipp and Nannie Winslow.

There is an old Chinese proverb that I believe best describes the American way: "You give but little when you give of your possessions, it is when you give of yourself that you truly give." I chose to come live in this country for many reasons, but the kindness, acceptance and generosity that I discovered once I landed here is the reason that I have stayed. I wish you all a Happy Holiday season, and thank you for enriching my life.

Olivia Winslow