A time for good citizens

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 30, 2010

Back in November, Howie Soucek penned a petition to International Paper Co. officials, urging the company to assist the community wherever possible in the wake of the closure of the paper mill. A portion of it reads as follows:

“Our hope and prayer is that IP’s leadership, rather than to create such hurt and havoc and just walk away, will instead demonstrate concern for a community that has profitably sustained its mill for years as one of the jewels of the industry. This is what reasonable Americans everywhere expect from a good corporate citizen.”

IP has responded in at least once instance and acted like the “good corporate citizen” the petitioners asked for. The company has donated $120,000 to the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way, a sum that represents just about half of the total amount of donations the charity received last year. With that money, the United Way supports 26 agencies and 30 programs in our community.

The company donated the money because it knew that the mill closure would negatively affect donations to the United Way in the future. But it was, by no means, required to do so. It was a very generous act.

Now the challenge will be to continue on without that company and try to keep the United Way, and the agencies and programs it supports afloat as best as possible.

The next few years will, in short, be a time for “good citizens.”