As we head quickly toward turkey day, it seems the holiday season snuck in a bit early this year as we were graced with the white stuff a bit sooner than we are typically used to. My colleague and I were chatting the other day that we are both fighting the urge to put up our holiday décor. (OK…in all reality I just took down our Halloween decorations – don’t judge…) As the holiday season approaches, it evokes the once-a-season memories that come flooding in once the winds turn cold – family traditions, holiday travel planning and gathering near and far of friends and loved ones. Along for the ride this time of year are thoughts of gift giving amid the making and sharing of holiday wish lists, the proliferation of Black Friday promotions (ugh), and the strategies for selecting, buying and wrapping the treasures of the season. As we are paired with names in our family of who to buy for and what they want this year, I am reminded of the many ‘wish lists’ across our community for those unable to afford gifts of their own for their families. There is the Salvation Army Angel Tree tags you can select to provide items for local children, the Family Service Agency ornaments that provide necessities for local seniors, the Goodfellows gift program and VAC Purse Project giving moms in shelter a purse filled with goodies to brighten their day.
Among these are many other programs and requests from agencies that sustain and foster the holiday spirit for those who want to bring the joy of Christmas to their families this season, but need a bit of a hand up to do so. You know your mailbox will soon be full of letters from local charities, all with a return envelope and a plea to give to a program, service or entity. What do I wish for this season? Take a look at them. Read the messages. Think about what you value in your own life, and what you are able to spare to help someone who may not have the resources you are blessed with. Read about the needs of our community – and respond to one or more if able.
People are often excited to donate a new coat or a toy to give a family. The monetary gift you give may not be as flashy as a toy, coat or a shiny coin in a Christmas kettle. But, you know what? Those gifts will sustain a family that may have not gotten matched with a giving program because their household income is just above the threshold to receive help. Those gifts will help sustain a local agency or program past the rush of holiday generosity, in the months afterward, where donations are not flowing is as they do during the giving season. Most importantly, those gifts will make a lasting difference. They will change lives – quietly, consistently, and in a most meaningful way. I ask, too, that at this time of year to think about giving to Kishwaukee United Way. Will your gift to United Way help one specific family this season – no, not immediately. But I can promise you that it will help sustain the legacy of our work that is nearly 90 years in the making – supporting agency, program, resource and referral, advocacy and sharing resources to support financial stability for families. It will fund programs and services for children, youth and seniors well past the season – doing real good and making positive changes in our community. To make a gift, call 815.756.7522, or drop a contribution in the mail to Kishwaukee United Way, PO Box 311, DeKalb, IL 60115. The happiest of the holiday season to you all!