Editorial-Thanks for still answering call

Frank and Mabel Raab must be smiling...

Frank and Mabel Raab must be smiling.

Decades ago, the couple were up to their elbows creating a grassroots support system for neighbors in need.

A house burned down. A father took ill. A family’s pantry was low on food and a call went out.

According to “Poulsbo: It’s First Hundred Years,” the person on the other end of the line was often the Raabs. They’d ring the bell to get the word out and the community would rally around the cause.

Today, that effort is known as the Bellringer fund, run by the Lions and Raab foundation in honor of the couple’s tireless efforts.

And while time has passed, the need has not. Nor has the response from the community. As we end yet another Bellringer campaign, we do so having seen the true spirit and magic of the season come alive.

When we published the first call for community support, $25,000 seemed like so much money. The first few donations gave us hope as we watched the blue triangle on the front page ever so slowly fill. But it was still so far away.

The donations kept rolling in and we were humbled by each step.

Families coming together to honor a loved one with an act of good will. A collection between coworkers at a local business, some of them even giving up their tips for the cause. Elementary school kids who gave of themselves and didn’t even ask us to let Santa know about their extra good deeds. A check just to say “Merry Christmas.” So many folks who chose to be that anonymous St. Nick figure to help the fund along.

And then we were there, and suddenly far past the $25,000 goal that just weeks ago had seemed like Mount Everest.

We often comment on the generosity of this community, whether it be helping Blaze the fire puppy live a longer life or junior high students’ “crushing” success of a food drive. This spirit is nowhere better exemplified than in the Bellringer fund, where what was once just a grassroots movement has become as much an institution here as the United Way, Habitat for Humanity or any other worthy cause.

Yes, Frank and Mabel Raab would be proud. Their legacy of compassion, understanding and general good will for those in need not only survives, but flourishes in North Kitsap. In a year when everyone was tightening their belts, neighbors opened their wallets and said “How can I help?”