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It's the holiday season, a time for giving and giving thanks. And I would like to give thanks to the members of the Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce for their giving over the past 12 months. As you know, the Chamber is a non-profit organization, and as such we spend a great deal of time asking for your support as members, sponsors, advertisers and attending our programs. However, we also recognize the fact that as a "community-based organization" we have a responsibility to give back ourselves.

Unfortunately, our limited resources prevent us from providing financial support to the many worthy organizations that approach us during the course of any given year. However, what we can do is connect our member businesses to a variety of other non-profit organizations in the community and leverage the strength of our organization to maximize the impact of our efforts through collective giving. For example, last week at our annual Holiday Kickoff After Hours at Davio's, we asked members to bring an unwrapped children's toy to the event. I am happy to say that there are now over 100 toys sitting in the Chamber office (they are still coming in) that we will be presenting to Toys for Tots later this week. How's that for making an impact?

And you don't just do it during the holidays, you do it throughout the year. Our Fashion Show last spring included a clothing drive at which we asked for your gently-used business attire so that people who were getting their lives back together and interviewing for jobs would be able to make a strong first impression. We were able to fill a truck with the clothes that you donated and present them to Goodwill's "Put Your Clothes to Work" effort. We also donated $1,000 from the proceeds of the Fashion Show to Birthday Wishes, an organization that brings birthday parties to homeless children.

Our Golf Outing in August allowed us the opportunity to partner with Norfolk Advocates for Children. Norfolk Advocates for Children is a partnership of public and private agencies that work together collaboratively to help children who experience physical, sexual and domestic abuse. NAC also provides community, training and advocacy on issues related to child abuse prevention and treatment. Thanks to member support of our golf outing, we were able to present a check for $1,500 to NAC for the important work they do in our communities.

Last December I helped deliver hundreds of pounds of non-perishable food items to the Norwood Food Pantry that was donated by members of the business community through the Chamber. In this case, we got to see the look of thanks in the eyes of those who were on the receiving end of your generosity, and it was something I'll never forget.

Too often "business" is cast as a faceless, unfeeling entity concerned only with making a profit at the expense of others. Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life," or Scrooge in a "Christmas Carol" are two extreme examples. However, my experience with business is much different. Business is people working and living in a community. Business is people caring about that community and making a difference in people's lives by supporting organizations like the Chamber and others. Where a small act like bringing one children's toy to an event is multiplied 100 times by others and results in a huge donation to Toys for Tots and a happier holiday season for kids in need.