The season is rapidly ramping up to its frantic pace for overindulging on Thanksgiving and buying too much for Christmas. But one of the nice things about living here is the generosity that comes out in full force as well at the holidays.
Whether it’s a free, church-sponsored Thanksgiving dinner hosted and prepared for anyone and everyone in Derry, or adopt-a-family programs at area churches and food pantries, residents, regardless of their financial status, seem ready to dig into their pockets to help those less fortunate. As an aside, recent national news stories report that wealthier people donate less of their income proportionately to charity than people whose incomes are lower.
Our pages are filled with announcements of coat, hat and scarf collection drives; boot collections; food pantry requests; and wished for gifts for the needy. It starts young, with school children collecting pennies and clothing to help others, older students hosting more extensive collection drives, and adults contributing time, money or gifts to help “adopted” families not in a position to buy gifts for the holidays otherwise.
Local drives make it feasible for most people to help out. Children grow out of their clothes, and clothing drives, particularly for winter items, are a great place to recycle those items and know that they are going to someone in need. Living in a state without a sales tax, we often don’t carry around the pennies we get back from purchases, and a penny drive to aid the less fortunate is a great use for those coins.
Then there are food and gift needs for local families, usually collected under the auspices of food pantries and churches and “giving trees.” Buying a few extra cans of soup or packages of macaroni and cheese may make the difference to a local family experiencing hard times, but have little impact on the giver’s household budget.
We live in an affluent area, and we don’t often see visible indications of need. But organizations like Family Promise, which provides shelter for local homeless families, or the busy food pantries in each of our towns, are strong indicators that while we are surrounded by the trappings of comfort, they don’t include everyone.
So when you plan your gift giving this year, think of your neighbors as well. And if you have some spare time on your hands, consider helping out at free meals, soup kitchens, or fundraisers for the holidays. It’s a rewarding way to express the spirit of the coming season.