A month ago, this column focused on what we all can do, individually, to effect positive change in North Okaloosa County.

A month ago, this column focused on what we all can do, individually, to effect positive change in North Okaloosa County.

As the holidays approach — that phrase seems odd for Sept. 18, but I spied Christmas displays, already, on Monday in the Crestview Cracker Barrel gift shop — we’ll see more opportunities to help the community.

Opportunities like the Mount Zion AME Church children’s coat drive, which organizer Tomyka Muse hopes will provide warmth to 200 local children.

Or FamiliesFirst Network’s pajama drive, which reminds us that something many of us take for granted — sleepwear — can provide a sense of security for children who’ve been abused, neglected and shuffled around.

Some of these opportunities to give a little to help a lot aren’t seasonal but, just as with life, crop up unpredictably.

Like this week’s Boston butt fundraiser for Laurel Hill School bus driver Rhonda Ward, who has cervical cancer.

Or Old Warrior Ranch’s inviting North Okaloosa residents to become a cowboy or cowgirl for a day with its Sept. 29 family fun day benefiting the Crestview YMCA.

Then there are occasions in which we simply must give of our time, and nothing more—but that makes all the difference.

Like Informed Families’ efforts to convince Floridians to put down the smart phones, tablets and remote controls and observe Sept. 23 as “Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children.”

Growing up, Mom always said, “The family that prays together stays together.” Eventually, I heard a variation of that saying: “The family that plays together stays together.”

In any case, a family’s closeness correlates with benefits that surpass just staying together. Students’ chances of abusing illegal substances purportedly plummet as the number of family meals increases, according to a decade of studies by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Ten years and the same result — that’s a significant finding, wouldn’t you say?

The News Bulletin will do its part, too. Not just with stories and commentary that informs and empowers residents to make responsible choices — that reminds me: We are so pleased to introduce you to our newest sponsor and contributor, Crestview financial adviser Joe Faulk, who will help all of us make sense of the household budget. More on Page B4 of today's edition — but we also will set an example with more active involvement in the communities we cover.

Some of our team members will be assisting the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce as it organizes a community showcase of area clubs and organizations to prove that, yes, there’s plenty to do in Crestview.

That should help boost hometown pride and morale.

Between now and Oct. 11, our office is an official FamiliesFirst Network drop-off location for children’s pajamas.  

That will provide a sense of security for foster children living with uncertainty.

For my part, I’m serving as the Crestview Relay For Life’s publicity chairperson. Assisting with this cancer research fundraiser, under event chair Megan Bowersox’s able and exemplary leadership, is a true honor, and an opportunity to mobilize North Okaloosa County to participate in next April’s event and collect as much as we can to find a cure.

That can save lives.

Yes, four weeks ago, this column presented readers the challenge of doing something to effect positive change in our community.

This week, we just want you to know: We are practicing what we preach.

What's your view? Write a letter to the editor or tweet News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni @cnbeditor.