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We’re looking for stars

It appears we have reached the point where even the things that offer the comfort of familiarity suddenly seem to have a different feel.

Such is another reality we face as we continue to work through changes that have come about through our ever-changing reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those events is the annual Community Stars program presented by the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.

It’s been a recognition event that has been a constant of fall since it was first held on Oct. 27, 1998.

The goal today, as it was from the beginning, is deceptively simple — we seek to find the true unsung heroes from around the Tri-State Area. They are the men and women, girls and boys who have made a great impact on the lives of others while not seeking the spotlight. In short, they are the people who do the right thing for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.

One of the aspects of the program that makes it special is that our readers always have had great involvement in the selection process. Everyone is invited to submit a nomination. And, there are just a few guidelines about who that can be. The only real requirement is that the individuals who are nominated live in Jefferson or Harrison counties in Ohio, Brooke or Hancock counties in West Virginia or Washington County in Pennsylvania.

There are no age restrictions — past honorees have covered a wide range, from younger than 10 to older than 90.

We’re taking nominations through Aug. 12 this year. That’s when the hard work will really begin, and a panel including reporters and editors at the newspapers will go through the nominees and select the 10 who will be honored. It’s a difficult process, especially when you consider that in the past we have received anywhere between 50 and 80 nominations.

As in the past, a profile of each of the honorees will be featured in a commemorative booklet that will be published in late September. They will receive an award and a gift certificate.

What will be different will be the way they are honored. Because of the lingering concerns and constantly changing guidelines and restrictions that have been and will be put in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, we will not be able to hold the traditional recognition dinner this year. It’s become an anticipated event and has offered members of the community the opportunity to celebrate the good works of their friends and neighbors.

Each of the last several dinners, in fact, have attracted more than 200 people to Froehlich’s Classic Corner in downtown Steubenville.

We just don’t know for sure what guidelines and restrictions will be in place two months from now, but we are holding out hope that it will be possible to hold a small reception that will be limited to the honorees and a guest.

That’s a little bit down the road, though. Right now, it’s important to take a few minutes to nominate that friend or neighbor who always is stepping up to help. We need the name, address and telephone number of the nominee along with your relationship to that person and a brief description of why you think that person is a Community Star. We also need the name, address and telephone number of the person who is making the nomination.

Those items need to be submitted to City Editor Mike McElwain, Attn. Community Stars, Herald-Star, 401 Herald Square, Steubenville, Ohio 43952. E-mail submissions can be sent to newsroom@heraldstaronline.com. You can find a nomination form on Page 6A of today’s edition.

Community Stars continues to grow thanks to the support of Weirton Medical Center, which once again returns as the presenting sponsor, and M&M True Value Hardware on Sunset Boulevard in Steubenville, which provides gift cards for the honorees.

The efforts of those who are selected as Community Stars always have helped to make our region a better place to live.

With all that we are experiencing, that work is more important than ever. As we continue to navigate our way through a year that truly is like no other, it’s good to know that our friends and neighbors always are willing to help.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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