Another year is winding down, and what a year it was.

We lost David Bowie, Glen Frey, Abe Vigoda, George Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Gary Shandling, George Michael, Joe Garagiola, Prince, Patty Duke, Morley Safer, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Florence Henderson, and Gene Wilder, among others.

Nationally, there was a polarizing election in which Donald Trump won, despite losing the popular vote. And he did it in part by garnering eight million votes from Latinos, of the 131.7 million votes cast in the nation.

Locally, the communities we live in comprising southern Chester County remained strong and vibrant. Economic growth, fueled by a strong jobs market, edged up, along with the housing market.

A strong community is possible only with good people keeping it that way. Looking to 2017, the question we all should ask ourselves is “What is one thing I can do to make my community a better place.”

It doesn’t take much. If you are a member of a local service organization, you are already doing your part. If you are a firefighter, or a volunteer at Family Promise of Southern Chester County, or a mentor at the Garage Youth Center in Kennett Square or West Grove, or help out at Kennett Middle’s After the Bell program, you are doing your part.

While volunteering to make your community a better place to live and play is certainly laudable, and doesn’t cost money, it isn’t the only thing you can do.

Greg Lafferty, senior pastor at Willowdale Chapel, said in his Christmas Eve sermon that people can make communities stronger by doing simple things, like greeting people they don’t know. Or assisting elderly people with grocery bags. Or helping people out who do not have the means to repay you.

Wishing for world peace is certainly laudable, but it all begins at home, and it starts with the simple things.

There are many organizations in Chester County that help those who really need help. Among them are United Way of Southern Chester, Safe Harbor, Habitat of Chester County, Catholic Charities. Lighthouse Youth Ministry, Good Neighbors, Camp Dreamcatcher and La Comunidad Hispana, among others. But all of us -- every one of us -- can make a real and lasting difference by simply helping out, whether it’s volunteering or doing a kind deed for someone who is struggling.

It really isn’t hard to get involved. If you donated a toy to a Blitz Automotive in Kennett Square or one of the many other local businesses collecting them to be taken to children suffering from cancer, you get it. You are making your community stronger.

All of us can make our community a wonderful place to live in 2017 by doing the simple things that matter.

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