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Sometimes in life, we find inspiration in the most unexpected places.

I was watching the local news a few days ago and saw a story about a little boy in need of a miracle. Adam Lumpkins, a precious 5-year-old fighting a form of leukemia, is in urgent need of a bone-marrow transplant. His loving and admirable family and friends arranged a bone-marrow drive in our area in hopes of finding a donor. I felt compelled, as a healthy 21-year-old, to register to be a marrow donor. It is my sincere hope that this event has found a match and will fulfill the greatest Christmas wish of all for this wonderful family.

Driving up to the Mechanicsville firehouse, I was incredibly pleased to see the parking lot overflowing with cars. I was left speechless when I opened the door and saw hundreds of people waiting in line to register and get tested.

I have never felt more at home in a room full of strangers. Standing in line, I fought back the urge to cry; I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of what I was witnessing. As I looked around the room, I couldn’t help but feel the love of each and every person in that firehouse.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines community as “a group of people with common interests living in a particular area.” Today, I learned that the true definition of community reaches far beyond this. Community is taking time to remember that you are not alone in this world. Community is treating strangers as friends. Community is faith through unity. Community is a solid foundation built upon the generosity and love of neighbors. Community is a bond that cannot be broken.

I felt the power of community on Saturday and that power has inspired me to take more time to give back to those who have given so much to me. The great Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato or Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

I not only saw but I felt the “heart full of grace” and “soul generated by love” of Southern Maryland on Saturday.

I have always been incredibly proud to call this place my home and this experience has renewed my appreciation for the community that has shaped who I am. Today, I have discovered that my life has been built on a solid foundation of generosity and love of my neighbors; a feeling of extreme warmth and comfort accompanies this discovery. I will rest easy tonight knowing that I am a part of something so indescribably powerful.

I would encourage each and every one of you to register to become a bone marrow donor. You can find more information about registering at

Karen Wathen, California