I was born and raised in a small, poor community. Most of my friends haven't even heard of my town, so I keep a map saved in my photos so it's easily accessible in a pinch. Lubec is the Eastern most point in the entire United States — and, another cool fact, it's the closest point in the states to Africa.
Besides my college town, Lubec is the only place I've lived, and I'm so grateful for that. Even though Lubec's median income is below the poverty line, I've learned so much about giving.
Every year around Christmas, my town holds a toy drive. There are boxes posted around town where people can drop off gifts for families or kids that aren't fortunate; there are several opportunities in the winter for people to drop off lightly used winter jackets, gloves, mittens, hats, and so on.
When somebody in the community gets sick -- you bet we're having an online Facebook dessert auction to raise money to help pay for their care.
When my grandmother was sick with cancer and needed help paying for her treatments and travel costs, the people of Lubec rallied together and raised a good chunk of change for her. Maybe a week later, the community came together and did the same thing for another older gentlemen battling cancer.
When I was still going to school to become a physical therapist, a local woman said to me, "If you need help paying for school, let me know! We'll hold a fundraiser. We'll have you taken care of."
I don't doubt that one bit.
I was fundraising to go to Washington, D.C. my senior year of high school, I raised six-hundred dollars on a Yankee Candle fundraiser. I hung out at my workplace with a table and a horrible, handwritten sign. If I remember correctly, three-hundred dollars was directly from donations, just from that one fundraiser.
I left a donation bucket up at my workplace. I saw people drop twenty dollars in it, others would tell me to throw their change in the bucket.
The thing about living in a small community is that people give what they can and they don't expect anything in return.
This is the biggest reason why I am so thankful I come from such a small, tight-knit community. If you're struggling, if you want to do something super cool like go to Washington, D.C.; if you need a ride to a doctors appointment, someone will surely be able to help you out. Need someone to pick up your meds? As long as you can get them the cash, you can count on them.
There have been lots of times I've needed a ride after school, and my mom couldn't come to get me on account of her being at work. Sometimes coworkers will offer, and the only thing they ask for in return is "a bit of" gas money for the trip to Machias (which is thirty miles away).
I'm so grateful for my community; they have all shaped me into a person willing to do what I can within my means, whether it be buying a friend dinner or lending a compassionate ear.