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Robert Williams

Most would be amazed at dollars donated by local businesses

For nearly 50 years, I’ve owned a business and tried to keep the books balanced. Over those years we’ve tried to respond generously when asked (and sometimes when we haven’t been) to worthy causes in our community.

Many years ago, I was a banker and handled the account where that institution, routinely, gave away many thousands of dollars to, literally, dozens and dozens of all kinds of groups, individuals, churches and causes. It was a staggering sum.

The average citizen would be surprised to learn how much money most small-town businesses contribute in an average year. Virtually all would be shocked if they knew how much money community banks dole out. Even more eye-opening would be the total amount actually requested each year for “donations.”

The dollar amount is staggering.

Certainly, there are any number of worthwhile efforts that genuinely need, and deserve, community support. And most small-town businesses are usually glad to help, within their limited means.

As one business-owner told me a while back: “Most people think if you own a business, that means you are automatically rich.”

We laughed at the thought and agreed the only automatic thing about owning a business is debt — lots of it. Anything over that comes only through bard work, perseverance and a lot of luck.

It has been disappointing over the years to hear area merchants criticized for a so-called “lack of support” for some outstanding, but often high-priced, youth venture. Many, many dollars have been given, out-of-pocket, by a number of businesses to support hundreds of ventures by bard-working young people. But no single business can support all. The cost is more than anyone short of Apple or Google could bear.

While the vast majority of the youngsters participating, and their parents, are usually appreciative, it’s been obvious over time that some feel, somehow, slighted.

Something’s wrong.

Certainly there are a countless number of youth events that deserve community and business support. But … where do you draw the line? When you’re sitting with your check book opened, how do you decide whether it’s best to contribute dollars to pay a premium price to buy a hog? Or to sponsor a rec league ball team? Or to help the high school athletes have new equipment? Or to send the whatever club off to Atlanta?

Do you put off buying a new piece of equipment so you can support the construction of a neighborhood community center? What about the usual charities like cancer, heart, etc.?

Do you give your money to the XYZ Church trying to build a new building? Or do you give it to the family that has serious illness and no insurance? What about the food program for the needy? Do you give a few dollars to help that pretty little girl enter yet one more beauty pageant? If you’re the average business owner here in smalltown Georgia, you’ll do nearly all of this — and more — just about every year.

My point is simple: most all merchants are eager to help ... just remember, please, that you’re not the first to come through the door with a “worthy” cause — and you won’t be the last.

That door revolves rapidly.

 • Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email:



Robert M. Williams, Jr. can be reached at