A year of cheers

Christmas is a time not only for celebrating, but also for giving thanks. It's not possible to come up with the list of all the things we are thankful for, but it occurred to us that at least some of them appeared in our Cheers and Jeers editorials over the past year (in the Cheers portion, of course). So to remind us of those uplifting events, large and small, we once again offer our cheers:

Jan. 7: ... to the enthusiastic crew of volunteers who pooled their talents and resources to restore an aging pickup belonging to a National Guard soldier returning from duty in Iraq. Spec. Paul Robertson arrived home on leave late on New Year's Day to find his 1977 Ford F-150 spruced up, painted and sporting new rims and tires.

Jan. 14: ... to the opening of the new Jackson and Roosevelt elementary schools last week, bringing students back to their neighborhood campuses 30 months after the school district closed the buildings because of safety concerns.

Jan. 21: ... to the Rogue Valley's steady stream of support for Haiti. It took Southern Oregonians a while to get organized after news hit of last week's devastating earthquake near the island nation's capital. But now residents, businesses and community organizations have put together a long list of aid efforts.

Jan. 29: ... to Medford developer Laz Ayala for his gift of $50,000 to Kids Unlimited. The nonprofit youth program provides much-needed support for low-income and at-risk youths in the community.

March 18: ... to Talent Elementary School for being named one of 10 "Champion Schools" by the state Department of Education. The award recognizes schools that make the most progress in raising the academic performance of minority and low-income children.

April 2: ... to Water's Edge Community Church, whose members raised $30,000 to build an orphanage near Kampala, Uganda. The 80-member congregation was moved to make the effort after the church's pastor, David Rapp, took 10 youth members to visit a Ugandan couple who house and care for orphans in their home and in houses rented for the purpose.

April 16: ... to the Ashland Independent Film Festival, which continues to thrive while adding a cultural and economic boost to the community. AIFF set a new attendance record in 2010, withw more than 18,000 tickets sold.

June 3: ... to Rick Wayne Watson, also known as "Uncle Rick," who has volunteered at Little Butte Elementary School in Eagle Point for nine years. Watson started when his niece was in first grade, and has been at it ever since.

July 1: ... to Jackson County for bringing the $38.9 million voter-approved library construction project in under budget by $800,000.

July 7: ... to members of the Home Builders Association of Jackson County, who put their efforts behind a golf tournament that raised money to renovate the home of a wounded Afghanistan veteran, Army Sgt. Tom Rollason.

July 23: ... to Medford and its sister city, Alba, Italy, celebrating half a century of friendship and cultural exchange. The two cities share many things in common, including climate, population, topography and an agricultural tradition.

Aug. 26: ... to the anonymous donor who provided the down payment that allowed Madrone Trail Public Charter School to buy the former West Side Elementary School from the Medford School District.

Sept. 24: ... to contributors who are helping Medford's high schools purchase pianos for their music and theater programs. The fundraising campaign already has raised $24,000 and purchased a piano for the South High theater.

Sept. 24: ... to Naumes Inc., which has given away a staggering 1 million pounds of fresh fruit to food banks nationwide this year, 20,000 pounds of it in the Rogue Valley. In the past seven years, Naumes has given away 10 million pounds of fruit across the country.

Nov. 10: ... to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for yet another record season. In the midst of the worst recession in decades, OSF racked up $18.5 million in revenue, up from $17.1 million last year.

Nov. 26: ... to Dakota Garza of Medford, for winning a national $10,000 Beat the Odds scholarship from Stand for Children's Leadership Center and a $6,000 Future First Citizens scholarship from The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County. The 17-year-old supports herself and has maintained a 3.75 GPA.

Dec. 16: ... to the folks at Mortgage Express and Keller Williams Realty's Alba Group, who saw that the local Toys for Tots campaign was lagging and took up the cause, challenging each other and other businesses and individuals to step up in the charity's time of need and raising enough to buy 150 presents.

Here's to more cheers to come in 2011. Merry Christmas.

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