Reflecting over the past year and taking the time to pause and be thankful, I will share it has been an honor to serve as the president and CEO for the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.

I stand amazed at the generosity of this community, when it comes to supporting the many programs and services that are offered. I have always known this community to be generous with time, talent and resources. We recently witnessed it once again when many came out to help the chamber cook and serve more than 900 buffalo burgers to those who attended our annual Frontier Days. This was the first time we were able to provide free burgers, and it was made possible by the generous donation of the General Tommy Franks Museum, as well as the sponsorship and support of the Comanche Nation Casino. We also received a nice donation of hamburger buns from Flowers Bakery.

It’s humbling when I look around this community and I see things such as this happening daily. People aren’t just assisting the chamber with their many events, but you see others such as our sheriff, whom I have admired and appreciated for years for his generous donation of turkey’s for those who need a little extra help. Or the annual Classic Golf Tournament where thousands are given back to multiple charities. Adrienne Davis is constantly working to help feed those less fortunate.

The list is endless. As of right now we have Light Alive Design hosting an Angel Tree, Greg Cousins out on his personal time collecting and delivering hundreds of turkeys, and our many churches providing more support than we can count.

We have much to be thankful for and that’s why I must monitor my response when I hear something negative about this community. I know the caliber of the people who make up this beautiful community, and I can call on, interact, read about or witness something that’s worthy of a Hallmark production happening daily. In fact, if you hear someone talking negatively about Lawton, I would ask for you to challenge them to get out and visit with the Food Bank, one of our hospitals, our amazing educational establishments, the City of Lawton leaders, or drop in at the chamber. I am sure they will be amazed to hear all the charity that’s happening daily, not just during the holidays.

Our mayor has been witnessed going around handing out I Love Lawton pins. If you don’t have one, you should see if you can get one. I know you can order them from the UPS Store on 2nd Street, and the Salt Cellar has them for purchase. Get one, wear it with pride and let it be a reminder that we have a wonderful community, one we all can love and find something to appreciate.

As well, let’s all try harder to be thankful for those around us. I have shared the story that one of the first persons I met when I arrived here almost 30 years ago was Councilman Tanner. I had a fender-bender on Gore when a car hit me. There was no physical harm, I was fine. But as a new resident to the community, it was heartwarming to have a young gentleman come up and ask if he could assist me with anything. He was very concerned and caring. His action on that day left a favorable impression that I recall as if it happened yesterday. It confirms to me that it’s not just what we say, it’s what we do. Or as one of my all-time favorites leaders, LTG (R) said, “we need more dooah, than hooah.” I am proud to say, we have lots of dooah here in Lawton, and it’s time we all get behind our city and share the hooah as often as we can. As my Momma would say, “Being kind is free, use it and use it often.”

Brenda Spencer-Ragland is president and CEO of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.

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