I remember a commercial that aired on television in the 1970s. An American Indian rows up to shore in a canoe and steps over garbage thrown there. He wanders a bit and ends up next to a highway. While standing there, a half-eaten fast-food meal is tossed from a passing car at his feet. He turns to the camera and a tear falls from his eye. The message is aimed at the person in the car. If you want a beautiful country, take responsibility. The commercial was from a private nonprofit called Keep America Beautiful. The message was “every little bit helps.” To solve a problem, you start with you.
This time of year, you see commercials for all the great things a candidate will do in Washington and all the horrible things their opponent will do. The 27th Congressional District has problems like homelessness, families struggling to feed their children and provide them school supplies, soldiers overseas away from family, families struggling to take care of their elderly, children in foster care, public parks full of litter and graffiti, and even litter on the sides of our roads.
I follow Mike Garcia’s campaign on Facebook. Weekly, I see posts, not about politics, but about Team Garcia’s “Saturdays of Service.” On the weekend when we all were thinking back to 9/11, Mike’s people organized a blood drive and volunteers donated 50 pints of blood. That is enough to save up to 150 lives. I also found out that a recent food drive by the campaign yielded 3 tons of food for local families in need. Mike’s supporters and volunteers also did the following:
• They put together 120 backpacks with school supplies for underprivileged school children.
• Collected 450 pounds of food for our local sheriff’s stations.
• Put in 100 hours at local animal shelters.
• Collected $500 in donations for the Brittany Foundation, which rescues, rehabilitates, cares for, and places homeless dogs with families.
• They raised $1,300 in donations for the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
• Provided 185 children in foster care with gifts.
And, a group spent Martin Luther King, Jr. Day beautifying a neglected park in the Antelope Valley.
Team Garcia gets it. Having a great country, state, district or city starts with us. Like Iron Eyes Cody’s character in the old commercial, I get sad when I see things broken. I also understand what the ad was saying. Don’t wait for the guys in Washington to fix things. Mike understands this very well. To solve a problem, he starts at home in our district.
Oh, and I think the American Indian character in the commercial would smile, instead of crying, if he knew that Mike and his supporters also collected 70 bags of trash from roadsides and parks on three separate occasions.