As the fall and winter holiday displays start to arrive in stores, and we tune our playlists to the first sounds of the season, I am reminded of all of the things that we have to DO around the holidays. Grocery shopping, menu planning, housecleaning, and (of course) starting to think about shopping for items on our loved ones wish lists. We give a lot of ourselves at this time of year. I am also reminded of much we, as a community, give to others at this time of year. No — not to just friends, family members, or even colleagues, clients and acquaintances. I am speaking about giving to help those whose faces we will never see; those whose names we will never know. We add a dollar to our total at the grocery store to help feed hungry families; We pull an ornament from a giving tree to buy a toy for a child who would otherwise go without; We drop coins in buckets, kettles and jars, knowing our small change can make a REAL change for others. We also sift through dozens of year-end appeals deciding what type of charitable gift we may want to make via our annual gift. United Way is one of hundreds of local charities – and thousands of national charities across the country to choose from when considering holiday giving.

Why do we want you to consider a gift to Kishwaukee United Way? Well, we like to think of ourselves as a one-stop shop where your generosity can do the most good locally for the broadest base of people. Our Board members spend hours vetting the 24 agencies that benefit from donated dollars – elder care agencies, childcare agencies, and dozens of services that help to lift up our most vulnerable citizens, right here in DeKalb County.

Our United Way also invests in larger causes and initiatives…Our 211 information and referral line, where people seeking help are just a phone call away from supportive services…Our FamilyWize prescription discount program where families can save money on medicines, and not have to make tough choices when money is tight…Our annual Money Smart initiative– coordinating over 100 free programs that help teach people – from kids to retirees– ways to save, invest and be ‘smarter’ with their money…and our new Born Learning Program where we plan to build an interactive play and learn trail along a parkway this spring, to bring awareness to the importance of early learning and skill building in young children.

So, as much as the Thanksgiving season evokes images of turkeys, pumpkin pies, family and friends (…and Black Friday steals!), it also evokes a feeling of thankfulness for all of our donors. From the employee that deducts a dollar of two from his weekly paycheck, to our local businesses who match their employee gifts annually and sponsor events, to our Leadership Donors who give generously of their resources so that we may sustain and grow our work each year.

Happy Thanksgiving and THANKS (for) GIVING – each and every one of you!

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