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Grant Bosse

Give yourself the best Christmas present ever

  • Joyce Bosse and members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Joyce Bosse and members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Leigh Bosse and members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Leigh Bosse and members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Joyce Bosse and members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Leigh Bosse and members of the Hillsboro Lions Club and their family volunteered to pack 111 boxes of food to serve about 400 people over the holidays in the basement of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hillsboro on Friday, December 14, 2012. The club has been packing food boxes since 1994 to feed families in surrounding towns.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

I’ve found that it’s better to put the potatoes in the box first. Then the onions and carrots. There’s always room for the canned vegetables, gravy and cranberry sauce later. The bread has to go on top. Much like in life, if you don’t take care of the big stuff first, the small stuff will take over. These are the lessons you learn stuffing Christmas baskets in the basement of St. Mary’s Church with the Hillsboro Lions’ Club.

In 1994, the local churches that did Easter and Thanksgiving baskets announced they could no longer afford three times a year. So the Lions stepped up.

The Messenger, the local paper owned by my folks, raises money to buy the groceries. Local supermarkets usually throw in some extra food. And the Lions make sure each family on the list gets enough of everything for a full Christmas dinner.

This year, we sent out 111 baskets, feeding more than 400 people. One was for a family of 16, three generations under one roof. The toughest are the baskets for one.

I’d like to say I come back to my hometown because it helps people who need it. But I have to admit to myself that the real reason I volunteer is because it feels great.

Conservatives too often steer into the perception that we’re heartless. Quite the contrary. There is nothing compassionate about pushing the government to take someone else’s money or to support failed government bureaucracies that trap low-income families in poverty. Helping others may not be a legal responsibility, but it is a moral one.

In his landmark book Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman wrote “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

Friedman was not saying that businesses can’t improve society. Rather, he was arguing that supporting charity at the expense of the business is a really bad way to do so.

Just about all of the charity done by private business is undertaken to help the firm, by attracting new customers, improving its image or qualifying for favorable tax treatment. This is great. But the societal benefits of these PR projects are dwarfed by those of a well-run business meeting consumer demand. Even businesses with no thought beyond the bottom line create and distribute wealth throughout our society.

The free market generates prosperity for all income levels far more efficiently than government, but not perfectly. Corporate giving certainly help a lot of people, but not enough. That’s where you and I come in.

When I was working as a radio reporter in the Upper Valley, our three stations each took on a holiday charity drive. My AM news station organized the Christmas Crusade for Kids, which was like a local Toys for Tots program.

My best memory from that project was the year that the students at the Hartford, Vt., VoTech built handmade wooden toys to go along with the store-bought toys donated by listeners.

The hits station raised money for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, which was just then opening its prenatal intensive care unit.

The country station raised money for David’s House, the home away from home for kids getting treatment at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

I can’t say enough about David’s House. The story of its founding will break your heart. For three and a half years, David Cyr was treated for acute lymphocytic leukemia at Mary Hitchcock Medical Center. His parents, Dick and Gerry, worried about all the other parents who couldn’t afford an extended hotel stay, but didn’t want to leave their sick kids. David died in 1984, but not before saving $300.78 for a “special reason.” Dick and Gerry used that special boy’s savings to found David’s House.

Since 1986, 12,000 families from all over the world have stayed at David’s House and never had to pay a penny. Is there anyway to measure the peace and comfort it’s provided in that time? David’s House moved to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock campus in 1994 on land leased from the hospital for $1 a year. It received no other financial assistance from the hospital.

It keeps the doors open with private donations.

This Christmas, do something selfish. Do something to make yourself feel better. Give your time. Give your money. Support a local charity. I have a suggestion if you need it.

(Grant Bosse is editor of NH Watchdog, an independent news site focusing on New Hampshire public policy.)

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