Season of Giving

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Don’t be a Scrooge this holiday season. Give like you mean it.

Or rather, be like Scrooge, but make that the transformed Scrooge who saw the meaningfulness of helping others and found the true spirit of the season in Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian Christmas tale.

You don’t have to be visited by three ghosts on Christmas eve to do the right thing this year — especially when so many people are out of work and face the grim specter of need as brought on by the poor state of the economy.

People across the country are being impacted by the credit crunch, the stock market’s decline, the housing slump, the failures of financial firms and the just-recently-diagnosed recession.

This might be a new experience in other parts of the nation, but it seems like more of the same for the Twin Counties. Hundreds of hardworking people got their first lump of coal in recent years when manufacturing layoffs idled plants here, much of it furniture.

Residents had already hunkered down when the additional economic crises came along, making matters worse.

The prolonged difficulties here along with the compounding problems in the U.S. mean the agencies the hardest-hit go to for help are feeling a pinch themselves. It’s obvious that assistance programs like Rooftop’s need a boost.

There are understandable reasons for this. Demand is up. Donations are getting harder to come by, and even the seemingly inexhaustible supply of federal funds are off, food bank organizers say.

People have choices to make in this economy. Sometimes unpleasant choices.

But a significant amount of people out there could say “humbug” to letting the tightening economy ruin Christmas. They could choose to, for instance, select more affordable presents than a new video game system or a fancy cell phone for loved ones and that would leave some funds to give something that means so much more.

It could be a donation — food or money — to groups like Rooftop and Willing Partners and other food pantries. Gently-used toys donated to Rooftop for its toy shop could be sold and the proceeds used to support the food bank.

In a similar vein, donation of goods to Willing Partners is turned into food bank assistance for those who need it.

The gifts could considerably brighten the season for many.

Instead of being left in the cold this Christmas, families with less could still feel blessed for the aid.