A good bit of national attention focused on McDuffie County last week, and I'm sure we all know why.
You might think of the Thomson Family Y's community support campaign. After, all the effort raised more than $60,000 in just five weeks, and it all goes for scholarships so more people can enjoy the Hill Street center and the Y130 on Main Street. Or maybe the attention was because of the Y staff who put so much into the campaign. "They also volunteer just as much as they work," Y130 director Corie Johnson says of the crew. That deserves attention, but that's not why America noticed Thomson.
You might think the attention was because of Mike Carrington putting the county's best economic development foot forward by handling luggage and greeting visitors at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport during this peak tourism week. Guess again.
You might suppose that the county's typical outpouring of support for Relay for Life was being tracked online. For instance, Child World put on a fish fry for Relay, in honor of two cancer survivors on the staff; the tilapia was excellent.
City workers gave up their Saturday for a yard sale and fun day for Relay. Michele Ray donates her time and money for a weekly Relay bake sale. Walkers are busy building teams and supporting other teams' fundraisers. That must deserve note.
You might think the online attention followed the Greater St. James AME Church centennial, which was supported by at least four other churches. Or the way the St. James folks returned the favor to the Popular Grove congregation.
You might think the attention was because of the Dearing United Methodist Church working together to pay the insurance bill. They put on a fish fry; the catfish was excellent.
Surely, you would say, the attention was because of the staff and young actors at Thomson High School and Briarwood Academy. Their productions of Cinderella and The Sound of Music were top-notch.
Or perhaps the Thomson High School Idol contest, in which singers and dancers put their talent on the line for a choral department fundraiser.
You might guess the attention followed the way other local restaurants donated food to workers rushing to reopen a fire-damaged restaurant. Certainly that deserves note.
Surely the attention must be because of Dot Cofer, shrugging off a heart attack and working to coordinate a 34th public health fair.
Or maybe the school administration and school board drew the attention for working to develop leadership from within.
Certainly someone must have been impressed to have local businesses pledge $25,000 for school athletic needs.
Maybe the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival's labors to pay tribute to a local music legend yet again on May 21 caught the eyes of outsiders.
Maybe folks noticed the planning for the downtown car show on April 30, or the Dearing Mayfest on May 7.
Perhaps it was the Ferst Foundation. You could write a book about the group's work to provide books to schoolchildren.
Maybe it was because everyone seemed to pick up trash along roadways on a recent Saturday.
Or Manna Inc., the food ministry that doesn't know how to say no, and has to say yes more often these days.
Or maybe, you might think, the attention was for the whole package, the way the community seems to come together after storms and fires.
Well, some of those efforts did get attention, and others will get their fair share in time.
But no, the attention of the chat universe focused on Thomson because one public official chose one word too hastily. He has apologized.
We need to care what others think of our community; we do care very much.
One careless word can carry a lot of weight. It can invite more careless words.
Anyone who thinks it deserves still more attention is free to say so.
But most McDuffie County residents will be too busy to listen. They'll be busy helping their neighbors.