When the Beam Family - a single mom and her 9 year old son from Rockingham - had their home burned out last week, it looked like it was going to be a pretty bleak Christmas. They'd lost everything, including any Christmas presents they might have had.
A newspaper article alerted the community, and an anonymous benefactor contacted Shamus Martin of Saxtons River and asked if he could help get the word out and see if anyone was interested in helping the family. What happened then is a tribute to the power of social networking.
Martin posted a comment about the situation on his Facebook page on Wednesday evening. With nearly 200 Facebook friends, the message spread rapidly. Martin offered to serve as a liaison, and he was soon accepting donations, food, toys, clothes, gift certificates, bedding and Christmas presents from over 30 people, as of Saturday morning, with more on its way.
On Saturday, Martin was organizing a present wrapping party for Sunday, and made clear that he saw the whole event as evidence that he lived in a very good community.
"What everyone should know," he said, "is that no matter how hard the times are, you can always find a way to help. Some of these gifts are from people who don't have much themselves, but they know how to get things done. This community should be proud of itself.
"Doing things like this is making everybody better people. It's good to be a part of it. You have no idea how good an effect this is going to have on people, even years down the road."