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Consider doing something for others before this chaotic summer comes to an end

An autumn sunset over Columbus’ softball fields at the South Commons.
An autumn sunset over Columbus’ softball fields at the South Commons.

Like an old friend that you have missed, it is Monday Mail.

Time

The beginning of school and approach of Labor Day remind us the summer is passing swiftly, with Sept. 1 considered the end of “meteorological summer” and beginning of fall.

So today’s opening is a reference to autumn from a fine source on the ever-changing seasons, Stephen King’s vampire novel “Salem’s Lot,” in which he wrote of autumn:

“It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”

Still astronomical autumn remains weeks away, as does fall weather, apparently. The autumnal equinox arrives as the sun crosses the equator headed south at 9:54 p.m. on Sept. 22.

Meanwhile

As this chaotic summer nears its end, consider finding some meaning and peace of mind in doing something for others.

Those who are able may consider donating blood, as the American Red Cross has been sending out urgent pleas to restock its blood supply during a critical shortage.

The Red Cross donor center here in Columbus at 7490 Veterans Parkway is closed on Sunday and Monday, but it’s open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The agency is online at www.redcrossblood.org.

Also, the Valley Rescue Mission at 2903 Second Ave. recently had a critical shortage in its food pantry. That crisis apparently passed while I was busy covering this summer’s violent crime, so I missed writing a column about it, but Mitzi Oxford at the mission said that doesn’t matter, because the need does not dissipate.

“We’re in better shape than we were a couple of weeks ago,” she said Friday. But around 20 families a day come to the shelter to get food bags, and that doesn’t mean just one food bag per family. It means each person in the family gets a food bag, so that could be four to six people or more.

“It goes fast,” she said.

The shelter needs nonperishable food, typically canned goods. She said it could use more canned meats, such as salmon or tuna.

Donations can be dropped off most anytime at the shelter’s side entrance off 30th Street. The telephone number there is 706-322-8267.

Ranger school

In the email today we have this message from Jim Hall of the Pine Mountain Trail Association in regard to a July 9 column on the Junior Ranger program many national and state parks have for kids:

Dear Tim,

Read with interest what you wrot. ... Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park also had a Junior Ranger day camp program last month. Amy Waite and Steve Smith did it as park naturalists. Folks can check out the park’s website section under Georgia parks. They have an active calendar of events for kids including archery nearly every week. Of course our PMTA group-led hikes and workdays are open to adults and kids. Fun hiking one Saturday and then give back by working a couple hours another. Of course parents don’t have to go with our trail association on a hike, but do one on their own. We give trail maps to students and have on our website a how to hike with kids section. Packing a lunch and carrying water and toilet paper are very important on outdoor activities. Our KIDS map has a check list of things to watch out for. Thanks for encouraging parents to get their darlings outside away from phones, video, whatever. For more info see “Hiking with Kids” at www.pinemountaintrail.org.

Jim.

Dear Jim:

You know what I like most about hiking with kids?

I don’t have any, so I don’t have to.

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