The Garden City Telegram
12/12/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Angel effort

Welcome gesture in support of crime victims in Kansas.

Many people experience some level of stress during the holidays.

Issues range from money woes to family disagreements, and any number of other uncomfortable scenarios in between.

But for people caught in the web of violent crime, the holiday season presents its own fallout in sadness and despair — particularly among those mourning the loss of a loved one to crime.

With that in mind, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has organized receptions in honor and remembrance of crime victims.

The Kansas Organization for Victim Assistance has worked with the attorney general on receptions for friends and family members of crime victims to attend and bring ornaments to place on an "Angel Tree" in honor of their loved ones.

The heartwarming program is somewhat like St. Catherine Hospital's inspirational "Tree of Life" ceremony, an annual tradition featuring a tree adorned with ornaments placed by people honoring friends and family who've passed away.

Such ceremonies help those in attendance see they're not alone in their sadness, and that support is available when needed.

When it comes to relatives of crime victims, it's important to remember the hurt doesn't end with courtroom proceedings and seeing perpetrators punished. Indeed, many who've experienced the loss of a loved one in a homicide, drunken driving incident or other criminal act may struggle for many years to find closure — if they find it at all.

The crime victim remembrances understandably were scheduled in bigger Kansas cities — Wichita and Topeka — which see the greatest loss of life due to criminal activity.

But no town is immune. Knowing as much, it's important to support programs and other efforts that aid those who've lost someone to a crime.

At a time it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping and celebrating during the holiday season, we should remember to comfort those going through tough times, and keep them in our prayers.

Just as importantly, we all need to make the most of holidays and other golden opportunities to enjoy time with family and friends — experiences that should never be taken for granted.