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“Community” means individual action

June 25, 2008

A couple of bags of popcorn nearly blocked the signature screen on the Safeway checkout card scanner.  I didn’t notice the sign the popcorn was intended to display; I only noticed the popcorn was in my way, and asked the cashier to move it so I could sign the screen. He moved a bag and said with resignation that they were supposed to be curing prostate cancer, one bag of popcorn at a time. Oh.

Earlier this morning, I had read about Katie Knopf, a Safeway customer up north a little way in Woodinville, who spearheaded a fundraiser for a cashier there who had disfiguring facial tumors from NF1 and didn’t have the $100,000 for the operation to remove the tumors and restore his face.

Katie Knopf said she didn’t want Oprah to “swoop in and save the day.”  She believes in local help for local individuals. So do I, but my first thought was that Safeway’s busybody union that keeps prices up sure negotiated lousy insurance.

“So whose prostate cancer?” I asked. “I’d buy my neighbor a bag of popcorn if I knew whom it was going to help.”

“I know,” he said. “It’s like we can save the whole world.”

“No we can’t, no we can’t,” the chant echoed in my mind. . . .

I told Ty about Katie, and he agreed that was the way we should be doing things.  But of course, he’s stuck making Safeway look good by selling popcorn to find a cure for anonymous prostate cancer.  Who knows whether the funds go to research, treatment, organizational overhead, or exactly what. 

Katie Knopf’s website introduces the world to James O’Neal, an individual very much worth meeting. So far, she’s raised $110,000 for James’s facial reconstruction surgery. Individual action for an individual cause used to be what we meant by “community.”

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