Fox News asked the unthinkable in an online headline on Friday: “Could the Republicans rescue themselves by turning to ... Democrats?”

Congress may, in the end, work its way through the health care saga with compromise and cooperation. In the meantime, the partisanship we see serves as an unfiltered message to the public: This is how it goes. It reinforces the message from the Oval Office. A media-consuming public now addicted to and numb to government-by-vulgarity need scarcely distinguish between a bully administration and the Republican Congress’ dazzling attempts to reduce coverage at the bottom by cutting taxes at the top.

The literal and figurative vulgarities raise such anger among their Democratic counterparts, debate too often devolves into a drone of partisanship, with scores and points today indistinguishable from those tomorrow. We see too many examples of the deterioration of civility in discourse, and believe it can barely avoid infecting our actions; in too many sad cases it’s too late.

There are ways to protect the civil norms of our various communities from these dangerous national influences, and it’s no secret what they are: humanity, patience and honesty, to name three.

If you have looked around your community recently, you’ve seen something that could be turned around, if only someone with the right attitude got at it: an unpainted fence, a weedy garden, a gutter full of litter.

Think of a way to help your community, a way to reach across to one new person or place. Trim an elderly or disabled neighbor’s lawn, bang some nails into the loose boards on her porch, take her trash to the curb. The benefit accrues to the helper and the helped … and the community.

Incredibly, two local organizations dedicated to serving the least among us — the Salvation Army New Bedford and Mobile Ministries — have found a way to multiply that benefit in a manner of such effectiveness, we are convinced it is worth everyone’s consideration.

Lift-In-Love Servathon volunteers will be gathering across SouthCoast this Sept. 9 to: paint the 970-foot fence at Hazelwood Park in New Bedford, harvest crops at the YMCA farm in Dartmouth, sort clothes at Gifts to Give in Acushnet, and spruce up Veterans Park in Fairhaven. They won’t just paint and sort and pick and weed, though, because every volunteer can be sponsored for their work. Lift-In-Love provides the paperwork you might use to gather pledges to work at one of the four main projects, or on a project of your own creation.

This year as last, parachutists, cyclers, runners, bikers and others will be doing what they can, to fill up what organizers call the Treasure Chest, managed by Steve Bouley and Ken Hartnett. Mr. Bouley will be biking for pledges again this year, and Mr. Hartnett will once again direct a talent show, this year from 2 to 4 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church in New Bedford.

As he told our editorial board last week: “Look at the ocean of need around us, you can see that. … Whatever you have to give, give it. Why not? Why not? You’re part of this community. Look out beyond yourself, beyond your eyes for one day, one day, that’s all.”

The Servathon raised $42,000 last year, and Mr. Bouley says pledges this year are already up to $5,000. Every dollar raised will go to the Salvation Army and Mobile Ministries to defray the costs of serving 50,000 meals a year to New Bedford’s homeless.

Complete information on how to participate is available at www.lift-in-love.org, or call Salvation Army Maj. Beth Ellen Parkhurst at 508-997-6561.

With summer ahead of us, it’s a great chance to look around and see where we could turn our time, treasure and talents. If we work together for our communities, we’ll better weather whatever storms blow our way.