I’m still thinking positive! The pandemic swooped into our lives in 2019, and has continued to challenge us all the way through 2020, and yet, as “Annie” sang in the movie of the same name, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you’re only a day away,” we can reflect upon the constancy of our friendship along our journey.

Friendship and love are interrelated. For just a moment, would you close your eyes and focus upon a particular friend that has consistently been there for you.

There have been many along the volunteer path that winds all around our beloved Citrus County — in church, volunteer groups, in the careers we have chosen — each sharing their particular gift and abilities lovingly. They nurture us, they affirm us and often challenge us to do more, reach higher for our goals. They forgive us, reassure us, and allow themselves to be a sounding board when we seemingly feel misunderstood.

Friendships allow us to be “ourselves.” They are a treasure to cherish lovingly. That’s why I sign the cards and letters I write with “Lovingly.” A friend is one who does not question your need, just fills that need with no strings attached.

Sir Walter Foss wrote, “Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” George Eliot has written, “Animals are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no criticism.” What an insightful tribute to friendships.

Our role is not to judge, but understand, and see beyond in any faults we may observe in anyone along the volunteer path and to celebrate the goodness in our friends. The GFWC’s (General Federation of Women’s Club) motto, “Unity in Diversity,” says it all beautifully.

Each of us can readily recall a time in our lives when a faithful and loving friend came through for us, standing by us in an embarrassing and trying circumstance and we were lifted up.

A friend is a good listener. The skill of listening is the ribbon that ties the ribbons to friendship together and an appreciation of a friend’s opinion cannot be underestimated.

There is so much heartache in our world today and the opportunity to be a friend is all around us; to say a kindly, affirming word to a troubled teen, to listen patiently to an elderly person repeating themselves, to encourage a single mom and to extend a hand to help a stressed-out club member who needs help. A friend does not hesitate. There are endless ways we can be a friend. Please take the time to give your special friend a call or send them a loving letter of appreciation for their friendship.

• Salvation Army Kettle Drive bell-ringing volunteers are needed throughout the county. Call 352-513-4960 ext. 4.

• The Nature Coast Cancer Crusaders are looking for volunteers for their February 2021 “It’s all About the Cause” Cancer Walk at Lecanto High School. Call 352-201-9047.

• Nature Coast Ministries is looking for volunteers in their free Dental Clinic and their thrift shop. Especially needed are donations of appliances, both large and small, in their quest to assist needy families. Call Edie at 352-613-3826. For professionals to volunteer in the Dental Clinic, call Sue at 352-563-1860.

• Citrus County Shelter: Mission in Citrus needs local businesses, individuals and organizations to adopt veterans in need of help with utilities and leases. Call 352-270-4357. The shelter is at 306 S. Park Ave., Inverness.

• The Citrus County Family Resource Center, located at its new facility on State Road 200, is in need of volunteers to wrap gifts for children in our community. As of Dec. 1, 2020, there were 160 children who still needed sponsors. There is a need for blankets for children, and shirts and tops for older girls (junior and women’s sizes). Children’s needs requests include dinosaurs, books on history (WWI and WWII), science, planets and sea life. Please drop off items after 2 p.m. weekdays and after 10 a.m. Saturdays or after noon on Sundays. The new location is 3660 N. Carl G. Rose Highway, Hernando. Call 352-344-1001.

• Hernando United Methodist Church will have a Winter Clothing Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 8-11, 2020, under its portico at 2125 E. Norvell Bryant Highway, Hernando.

• The Citrus Abuse Shelter Association is looking for donations of Christmas wrapping paper, gift bags, tags, and gift boxes. Drop them off between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1100 E. Turner Camp Road in Inverness. Call 352-344-8111.

• The We Care Mobile Pantry has made the Beverly Hills Mobile Pantry a permanent location and the greater need due to the pandemic, they are in need of more pantries throughout the county. Volunteers are needed. Call 352-503-2079.

• Due to the loss of volunteers, the Citrus Springs Library’s new hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 352-489-2313 and volunteer.

• Take Stock in Children needs volunteer mentors to middle and high school students for tutoring and long-term support as they prepare for college. Please call Pat Lancaster at 352-422-2348.

• The Hometown Toy Drive continues at 4 p.m. now through Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, at the Elegant Pelican at 7395 W. Pinebrook St. in Crystal River, along with a Fill the Trailer bicycle drive of new bicycles. Call 352-453-9364.

• Precious Paws Rescue will host a Holiday Shop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 9-13, 2020, at their Adoption Center at 5164 S. Florida Ave., Inverness. Call 352-726-4700.

• The Art Center’s Academy of Youth Artists’ production of the play, “Little Women,” will be presented Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11-13, 2020, at the Citrus Art Center, 2644 N. Annapolis Ave., Citrus Hills. Call the box office for tickets at 352-746-7606.

• The Citrus County Craft Show will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, at the Inverness Depot at 300 N. Apopka Ave. The event is sponsored by the Citrus County Chronicle and the Craft Council. For more information, visit www.citruscountycraftcouncil.org.

• The Inverness Christmas Parade is from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, and will travel along Inverness Highlands to Apopka Avenue.

• The Spot Family Center Christmas Jam is 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 23 and 24, 2020. Gift-wrapping opportunities are from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Call 352-212-4851.

• Be a Santa to a Senior is partnering with Home Instead and the Lecanto Levis 4-H Club where trees are placed in several locations throughout the county with ornaments featuring gift suggestions for seniors. For locations, contact Home Instead Foundation’s office at 4214 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway.

Until next week, keep safe and be positive.

Ruth Levins participates in a variety of projects around the community. Let her know about your group’s upcoming activities by writing to P.O. Box 803, Crystal River, FL 34423.

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