There's no better time than the holidays to reach out to those who are less fortunate.
Although recent balmy weather hasn't done much to help us get in the holiday spirit, we are a week into December, and Christmas soon will be upon us.
Along with this season comes the awareness that not everyone in our community has the means to make this a happy holiday. Many organizations hold major fund-raising events at this time of year, and many others make special appeals seeking help to make the holidays more pleasant for our less-fortunate residents.
So, with or without the snow that often puts local residents in a holiday mood, it's time to consider extending some goodwill to those around us.
Although its campaign deadline has come and gone, the United Way of Douglas County still is working to meet its funding goal. Donations directed to relief funds associated with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and economic uncertainty since that time apparently have made some people less likely to open their pocketbooks to United Way and the agencies they support. This is an important fund-raising effort, and a shortfall will affect every local agency United Way supports.
The sluggish economy also has meant a tighter job market, which will affect many local residents. More people may find themselves unable to afford even a meager holiday celebration for their families. In the last few days, several agencies have issued special appeals for people to adopt families for the holidays. This is an important effort every year, but it may be even more difficult this year to fill all of the needs.
The economic downturn may make it more difficult for some traditional givers to donate as much as in past years. Those people should keep in mind that gifts of time also are valuable. It only takes a little time and maybe an extra gallon of gasoline to deliver meals to the elderly, read to a child or help an agency make holiday deliveries, but, in some cases, such acts of kindness may be more important than a monetary gift.
Lawrence always has been a generous community. Permanent residents as well as many university students are eager to fill various needs for those who are less fortunate. During the holiday season and especially as the nation experiences a new sense of unity after the Sept. 11 tragedy it's important to reach out to those around us. The ability and willingness to help one another truly is the mark of a strong community.