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One of the most asked questions, (perhaps the most asked question) I get during the summer while giving tours is “What is it like here in the winter?’ It is often hard to hold my tongue and answer seriously, but usually my first response is “quiet really quiet”. Of course it must be difficult for visitors to envision that all the stores, restaurants and bars ever close. And even more difficult to imagine us out ice fishing, playing cards on Wednesday nights, or catching up on all the chores on the “honey do” list. But the weeks between Halloween and New Years are my favorite. You know just about everyone on the ferry, and if you don’t it doesn’t take long to find out why they’re on the island.

Usually a nosey question or two is all that is needed, (always a reporters best friend). Construction workers, sales people, and service providers from furnace repairmen to satellite TV make their last house call of the season before the boat stops running. There is such purpose to this time of year. Everyone is headed to a doctors’ appointment or buying supplies for a winter project or just getting all the final food shopping needed for the winter. I see parents and grandparents getting holiday presents and going shopping just because they can. It is a small pleasure for many to just spend leisurely hours in a mall or in a large “do-it yourself’ store. We get some time to indulge ourselves, or at least in the fantasy of personal gratification. For me it is test-driving new cars.

After all the rush back and forth is complete we get a minute to reflect on what is important. Perhaps it is time to catch up on letter writing or contacting friends and family. Maybe it is a time to spend sharing our time or talents with others like Joe Foutts does teaching and advising the new high school drama club (come join us for the play “Scrooge” December 9,10,11). I like to spend a little of this time thinking about how I may be able to give back to others (before tax time of course).

Perhaps before the years end you may contemplate giving to your favorite charity, making a contribution to your church or looking at ways to make a difference in our community. Last month I got to write a story about Community Foundations, like the Ottawa County and Toledo Community Foundations and the important role they play for our local non-profits. TCF is actually a collection of funds. Some provide scholarships for our children, or help local non-profits complete their specific missions, others that provide unrestricted funds for achieving good for the community. You may not realize that one of those funds does great things behind the scenes right here on the Bass Islands.

The “William E. Market Family Community Fund”, established in 2008 by Mary Ann Market as a tribute to her late husband “boss” Bill Market, is one of these special funds. The Markets have long been supporters of the arts, church and civic organizations. Mary Ann hoped that the Market Family Fund would be able to contribute a modest amount of money each year to a worthy project, non-profit, or community organization on Put-in-Bay, Middle Bass Island, or North Bass Island. In 2008 a contribution was given to the Put-in-Bay EMS and in 2010 a donation was given to the Put-in-Bay Volunteer Fire Department (there was no contribution made in 2009 due to those wonderful folks from Wall Street).

Anyone is welcome to contribute to this fund that is coordinated through the Toledo Community Foundation. There are so many great ways to give back to our community, supporting a fund like this or any of the Toledo Community funds that provide hope for our community and county are great choices for giving a lasting gift for years to come. So don’t worry, if you find yourself fearing the shopping roulette wheel of fortune, getting the right gift for that hard to shop for family member is only a stamp and envelope away. Send a gift that will keep on giving this season. And please don’t tell the mainlanders how much fun we really have here in the winter you’ll only encourage them to come and stay. (For more information about the William E. Market Family Community Fund, please contact Julene Market.)

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