The Meadow Lake community continues to lend its support to a local mother and her teenage son who lost almost everything they owned when a blaze broke out in their 8th Street West home New Year’s Day.

Shawna Lumgair, with the family dog in tow, was headed out of town to pick up her son, Arlan, when a neighbour spotted smoke coming from the house and immediately contacted Meadow Lake Fire and Rescue. Alerted by the RCMP, Lumgair returned to Meadow Lake as quickly as possible to witness firefighters working valiantly to rescue as much of the building as possible. In the end, however, few belongings were salvageable and the house itself was deemed completely uninhabitable.

As unfortunate as this incident is, it’s always remarkable to witness how much a community will rally behind one of its own during times of need. Within 48 hours of the Lumgair fire, more than $5,000 was raised through online donations while efforts to reach a new goal of $10,000 were progressing well. Meanwhile, numerous individuals also came forward with donations of clothing, food and household items – whatever they could provide to help the family get back on its feet as quickly as possible.

According to a report published by the University of Washington, there continues to be much discussion over what actually defines a community. For many, community is defined as a sense of cohesiveness among a group of people while, to others, it can simply mean volunteering for a local club or organization, buying from local merchants or taking time to get to know your neighbours.

Perhaps the true meaning of community, however, stems from the inherent instinct most people have to help their fellow man. Lumgair herself recently stressed how grateful she is to everyone who has offered assistance, many of whom she admitted are complete strangers. There’s no example of human nature that shines more than the ability to put others before oneself or, as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock would say, understanding the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
It’s this ability to put others first that can truly make a positive difference in the world. Another way is through cooperation. Staff at Meadow Lake’s Carpenter High School’s clearly understand this considering their willingness to allow a group of parents to organize an evening graduation program. The school itself chose not to host such an event this year for various reasons, but isn’t beyond the realm of understanding how important it is to the graduates.

Indeed, in Meadow Lake and other parts of Saskatchewan’s northwest, there’s no denying the spirit of giving remains strong well beyond Christmas itself.