Forrest Gump wasn’t kidding when he said life is a box of chocolates.

He’s right — you never know what you’re gonna get.

I think Mr. Gump had a vision about 2020 when he shared that metaphor. Because if there’s any-thing I know for certain about 2020 — well, it’s the fact nothing is certain in 2020. 

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been the biggest cheerleader for Team 2021. Since about March, I’ve been ready to hit fast forward and start a new year. Complaints have come from my mouth more times than I’d like to admit and negative thoughts have occupied by mind rent-free for far too long. 

And for that, I oughtta be ashamed. 

Life is challenging — every single year. But Lord, is it beautiful and man, do we have a lot to give thanks for. 

Locally, business is booming despite a year that should’ve failed small businesses left and right. But no, not in Alex City and Dadeville — we’re resilient. You can’t bring us down. 

All across the county we have new mayors in office — four of them. And you know what? Whether you voted for your city’s respective now-mayor or not, you have to admit their drive to propel our cities forward is admirable. Each and every one of them has a mission of progress. In Camp Hill, Mayor Messiah Williams-Cole already has made a difference. He is working hard to restore the town’s library and has instituted recurring town hall-type meetings in order to restore transparency in government that’s been in need of repair for years. I’m excited to see what happens in all of our municipalities over the next four years and beyond.

And as I’ve said a million times, people go out of their way for each other a lot in this little community and that’s something for which we should be endlessly thankful. On Page B1, you’ll read a story about Lakewinds hosting a golf scramble fundraiser for Dadeville native Maddie McClen-don, who was recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer at just 18. And that’s one of several local fundraisers that’s been held for sweet Maddie. Anytime someone is in need, our folks are right there to step up and help. 

On today’s front page, you saw a story about Russell Medical Foundation’s Great Grocery Giveaway fundraiser, with a similar concept to the “Supermarket Sweep” game show. Regina Simmons won the three-minute spree but wanted to pay it forward.

“There’s somebody who needs it more than me,” Simmons told RMF executive director Tammy Jackson as she decided to offer her prize to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch which provides homes for girls in need. 

There were nearly a dozen winners in the gift card drawing and about five of them paid it forward, Jackson said. That’s not surprising to me, as we live in quite a generous community. Take Friday night for example when the Lake Martin Area United Way and Lake Martin Dadeville Area Chamber teamed up for their annual Denim & Diamonds fundraiser and Nub Chuckers hosted a benefit tournament for Meals on Wheels. These are regular occurrences here in our area — people are al-ways looking to help each other.

Also on Page A1 you’ll read about how on Thanksgiving, a group of local churches will band together to send to-go Thanksgiving plates home with anyone in need and also deliver meals to public service workers. The group does this every year and does it with a smile. They genuinely want to touch the lives of those in need and spend their holiday helping others. Volunteers will be aplen-ty as well. It’s not hard to find people in this town who want to help their neighbors. 

We won’t know what the rest of 2020 will bring and 2021 may be another year of unknowns, but one thing I do know is the Lake Martin area will tackle it all as one cohesive, supportive community. We’ll continue to face challenges, but we’ll also continue to overcome them. 

The things I listed above are just a few reasons to be thankful, but most of all, we’re all still here to see another day. That’s all we can ask for — especially this year.

Santana Wood is managing editor of Tallapoosa Publishers’ newspapers. She can be reached at

Santana Wood is the managing editor of The Outlook.