The power, impact of an outstanding idea

You’ve perhaps heard it said, “Ideas have legs.”

It is an odd expression, and it always conjured up an image in my mind’s eye of a glowing light bulb with stick legs and tiny feet.

But in the last 10 weeks, the meaning – and the power – of this saying has become clear to me.

It seems to work this way:

You discover an “idea”; perhaps it is an original idea, or maybe it’s not original, just an idea you encounter. But if it is a “Good idea” (and I do mean good with a capital “G”), then you can’t really help sharing the idea with others. When you do, you can usually rest assured something of value will take place.

Darel La Prade, Publisher/Sr. VP New Media, Independent Newsmedia Inc.

Darel La Prade, Publisher/Sr. VP New Media, Independent Newsmedia Inc.

This is exactly what I have seen happen during the past few weeks. Let me explain.

In an email exchange last August with the Rev. Andy Stevens, senior pastor at the Milford Church of God, the idea emerged of a possible partnership between the church and the Milford Chronicle to conduct a joint campaign to solicit donations from local folks and to use whatever money raised to provide Christmas gifts for the community’s under-privileged children.

Certainly, newspapers elsewhere had found partners in their communities, and together, they had successfully conducted food, clothing and toy drives. We also had some idea about the depth of need in the Milford area. So, it appeared to be a “Good” idea to see, at the very least, what was possible.

The Empty Stocking Project (www.emptystockingproject.org) was borne out of this brief email exchange. Pastor Stevens took ownership of the idea, and he, in turn, solicited the help of Bruce Cottle, a member of the church and a man of prodigious organizational skills.

After several discussions, in which we identified all the barriers in our way, Pastor Stevens and Mr. Cottle set about improvising solutions. It was a wonder to behold. At one point, as we faced what seemed to be an insurmountable delay, Pastor Stevens remained undaunted, saying, “We have an outstanding idea,” and we all realized at that moment the power and the present reality of an idea.

So what exactly is the Empty Stocking Project?

In a nutshell, the Empty Stocking Project is a new community initiative that seeks to raise enough money in donations to ensure the neediest students at a local elementary school don’t wake up Christmas morning to find their stockings empty.

We discovered willing collaborators in Dr. Kevin Dickerson, superintendent of the Milford School District, and Dr. Bridget Amory, the district’s director of elementary education. Energetic, obviously sympathetic to and passionate about the welfare of the district’s youngest students, Dr. Amory quickly and confidentially developed a list of 114 students who deserve something extra at Christmas.

empty-stocking

www.emptystockingproject.org

Because this is the project’s first year, our plan is to start small, by helping students at only a single school, but the intention is to build on this year’s effort and to create a nonprofit charitable corporation, so that in the years to come, the Empty Stocking Project can broaden its base of donors and “bring joy” to every needy child in our city.

To make the effort possible this year, the Milford Church of God is generously handling for free all online donations through a secure web page so that 100 percent of the contributions can go directly to filling all 114 stockings with selected small gifts, including things practical like a tooth brush to things whimsical like toys and card games.

Though we could use more, we have a corps of volunteers to help purchase the gifts and assemble the stockings. Dr. Amory and her colleague, Dr. Jason Peel, the district’s director of secondary education, are coordinating the delivery of the stockings. And the Milford Chronicle is providing free promotion for the campaign.

The goal is to raise about $3,000, or about $24 for each stocking. Donations, in any amount, are welcome and will be accepted through December 14. To give, visit www.emptystockingproject.org. A receipt will be emailed to you, so that you can deduct your donation from your taxes.

There’s a long way to go in a short span of time. But we have a reason to be confident: We have learned not to underestimate the power of a “Good” idea.

Darel La Prade is publisher of the Milford Chronicle and five other weekly newspapers on Delmarva.

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