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What can we do to help raise our children?

I was not blessed (tongue planted firmly in cheek) with children of my own. Therefore, I have no grandchildren.

And I’m at the age now where my friends are enjoying their grandchildren.

But I’m not missing out on the experience, thanks to one smart, precious, silly, 5-year-old great-nephew named Finnan Bruce McNaylor.

Who knew they could be so much fun? I adore this little redheaded boy! I love him in a way I didn’t know was possible. I just want to squeeze him and kiss those adorable cheeks! I’m sure some of you out there can relate.

Finnan lives in Baton Rouge. My baby sister and I are competing for the role of favorite aunt. She’s winning because she lives in Baton Rouge, too. But I’m not far behind.

We spent a wonderful Saturday night with him recently, celebrating his fifth birthday with a party of our own. It’s been a long time since I wrestled, but this little lover of Captain America and Batman and Superman and the others wore me out as we reenacted epic battles between super heroes.

I had no idea I would ever take such delight in watching a child as he grows and learns and develops. I marvel at seeing his eyes light up when things connect.

My niece does a great job of keeping me supplied with video as he learns to read and write and spell. Thank goodness for technology. Watching him sound out the letters and spell a word and actually read and write is just amazing. He’s so proud of himself, and thirsty for that knowledge, thank goodness.

Finnan is fortunate. He’s being raised by two parents who are completely devoted to him and is being given every educational opportunity. I wish all children could be given that same kind of nurturing as Finnan is getting.

The reality is not every family is equipped to provide that to their children, but we all lose when a child isn’t given the proper encouragement when it comes to learning.

That’s where all of us should come in.

A few weeks ago, our community columnist Yolande Robbins wrote about Vicksburg resident Tillman Whitley, a long-time teacher here. Though retired, Mr. Whitley continues to teach Vicksburg children to read with the aim of making sure our children are reading at the level they need to be when they are in the third grade and take those mandatory reading tests in public school.

Mr. Whitley gets is. We should all take Mr. Whitley’s approach. What are we good at and how can we work to benefit the children in our community who need our help?

Thanks to my Finnan, I’m going to be giving that some serious thought. They need us, and we all win when a village comes together to raise its children.

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Do you know of a school, civic or church group — any non-profit group — that collects aluminum cans for recycling?

We have quite a collection of soda pop cans here at our office and we would like to donate them. My Diet Coke addiction is responsible for much of our collection, and we’re running out of room.

If your group does good works and could use these cans, please give me a call at 601-636-4545, ext. 1300.

Jan Griffey is editor and general manager of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at jan.griffey@vicksburgpost.com. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.