Many chances to give

Published 4:40 pm Monday, December 13, 2010

If nothing else, a semi-surprise snowstorm on Monday should be enough to get everyone in the Christmas mood.

Seeing snow twice in Suffolk even before the official beginning of winter is quite unusual. On my way in to work Monday, I was singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” to myself, fully realizing that the snow that falls this week has little chance of sticking around until Dec. 25. Ironically, at the same time, I was listening to radio reports from the Midwest, where folks likely are dreaming of being able to move their cars beyond the edges of their driveways right about now.

Unfortunately, many of our neighbors in Suffolk are having a tough time getting into the Christmas spirit, snow or no snow. It’s been a hard year for many. People who worked for International Paper and other employers lost their jobs. Retirement accounts — for those who even had them in the first place — have dwindled. The city still is in limbo regarding the outcome of the closing of U.S. Joint Forces Command, which employs more than 2,000 at the Suffolk facility.

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In the midst of all this, though, several organizations and their dedicated volunteers have stepped up to make the Christmas season a little brighter.

This Saturday saw two of those organizations — the Horton Wreath Society and Toys for Tots — in action. The wreath society placed wreaths with red bows at each and every final resting place in the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery on Saturday, and Toys for Tots handed out toys to parents who, even in the midst of hardship, wanted their children to have a merry Christmas after all.

Those two organizations are just the beginning. The Cheer Fund is collecting money to help buy toys for Toys for Tots, and has a ways to go before its goal is met. Salvation Army volunteers are ringing bells at their iconic red kettles all across the nation, raising money for their programs that meet the basic needs of the less fortunate in the community. The ForKids homeless shelter is seeking donations of money and toys — the former for its regular programs, the latter for children in the shelters to have a blessed Christmas morning. The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia is looking for donations of money and food to help its partner agencies feed the hungry.

The list of worthy organizations and their important programs — and the positive stories that come out of them — could fill this newspaper for weeks. The bottom line is that those among us who are able to give should do so. If we don’t, it won’t be for lack of opportunity.