Marci Mason is among a number of Ocracoke Islanders who pick up trash in their own quiet way. Photo: C. Leinbach

For years, an island couple have carried a trash bag on their morning walks through the village, picking up litter left by others.

They are not the only ones. Many others do the same thing, and not just in the village, but on their walks on the beach.

These acts of “doing the right thing” are done quietly and not part of an organized effort to keep our island clean.

Picking up stuff, especially plastics that wildlife may see as food, helps make Ocracoke safer and helps us humans live in harmony with nature on the island.

In a world of greater division and politicizing of the smallest of acts, it is these unsung heroes, acting on their own that make Ocracoke –- indeed throughout the world — a better place.

If one were to reflect on their daily lives, most would find things to do or say that would make a positive difference.

What are the rewards for pitching in or helping someone in a time of need?

It is the personal satisfaction that we who live on this earth should make it a better place. Often faith-based, many see themselves as stewards of the world and a desire to live in harmony.

Sure, becoming a member of a group committed to the same principles is important and often, by sheer numbers, can help push politicians to enact legislation or regulations that are needed to fix a problem.

But not all of us are joiners.

We have heard of many examples of individual letters to politicians at all levels, not responding to an individual.

One should not give up. Enough individuals sending the letters albeit unaware of what others are doing, can make a positive difference.

We saw that when LegaSea, a Manteo- and Ocracoke-based grass-roots group formed in the late 1980s to fight offshore drilling, was responsible for getting a 20-year moratorium on Atlantic offshore drilling.

Ginny Warner, a sea glass jewelry artist from Bakersville, N.C., describes a recent unexpected act of kindness in her letter to the editor below.

We are heartened by these many small acts and hope they continue to kindle and foster a sense of caring and humility in this season of gratitude and well beyond.

A thank-you to Ocracoke

What a wonderful world we live in. These past two years have been such a challenge for so many people. First it was Hurricane Dorian that slammed Abaco, Bahamas, with 185 mph winds for 48 hours and bringing a 23-foot storm surge. Words cannot even come close to the devastation it left. This is where I collect all my sea glass. Mostly all now buried. But it will come back. Just like the Abaco people.

But it was not only Abaco that was hit so hard. Dorian also pummeled Ocracoke Island. I had done a festival here and fell in LOVE with this small quaint island. It broke my heart again to hear of the devastation there too. But like Abaco, the people of Ocracoke Island are just AMAZING. They pull together to help one another to come back. They make sure the elderly are taken care of, even gifting one who had lost her home with a used trailer. She could not imagine a more perfect place to live. I also would have those same feelings. Then just like Abaco, COVID-19 hit.

But one word for the people of Ocracoke is … AWESOME.

The spirit of the people of Ocracoke Island lifted mine after hurricanes and COVID seemed to zap it away. The Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree (Oct. 29 & 30) was such a changing time in my life. The winds that tried to blow down the tent (on Friday) only made us hold on harder. Just like we all have been doing for the past two years. We have been holding on to the belief it will get better.

As an artist we all have been hurt by cancelled shows. Like no shows for over a year. But on the tiny island of Ocracoke something amazing happened. The show reaffirmed my belief that most people are amazing and nice.

On a sale after running the charge and the “signature” I noticed the amount was wrong. I asked for the card back to credit the overpayment and he told me it was a tip! Tears came to my eyes that someone had tipped me for my art. This occurred five times while on Ocracoke and is the only time it has. Just the thought that someone would tip my art — just like you would a gig worker — still brings tears of joy to my eyes.

Everyone was so happy to be out and about enjoying themselves. I would never expect a tip for my jewelry, but the generosity of those people reaffirmed my belief that there is good in all. Hidden sometimes, but somewhere there is humanity. And I will for sure pass it on.

So, from a humble Ginny the Bead Lady, thank you, Ocracoke Island, for who you are. A community who cares about everyone. A community that deserves to survive and thrive.
Ginny Warner

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