Our View | Giving is the best way to show thanks

November 24, 2013 

With Thanksgiving approaching, Steve Williams is grateful for the many local volunteers who will be ringing bells and reaching out to their neighbors this season.

Williams is regional manager with the State College Corps of The Salvation Army. The organization’s traditional Red Kettle Campaign gets rolling even as most of us are sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal or sorting through newspaper circulars and heading out for holiday shopping bargains.

Williams knows that money dropped into those red kettles will make a difference.

“This time of year, everybody’s life is so hectic, but they still find the time to help us,” he said for our Holiday Happenings special section, which publishes Friday. “They’re not so much helping The Salvation Army as helping their neighbors.”

We urge our readers to do just that this week and throughout the holiday season.

Find an opportunity to express your thanks for your own blessings by helping someone else who might not be as fortunate.

On Thursday evening, as the turkey is digesting and the shopping is beginning, Hanukkah will make an early arrival, bringing the festival of lights and the Jewish holiday to celebrate religious freedom.

And Thanksgiving means the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is upon us.

The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign launches Friday. You can volunteer to ring a bell, or you can drop your extra change into a kettle.

The holidays bring many ways to give, including supporting a local food bank, or donating to Toys for Tots.

Centre County is home to seven food banks. Their leaders work with the U.S. Marines’ toys program to bring nourishment as well as holiday cheer.

“Taking that anxiety away for a family, letting them know they can put on a Christmas meal and they can have toys, is just such a blessing for this community,” said Nicole Summers, executive director of the FaithCentre in Bellefonte.

With support from the community, FaithCentre will feed more than 1,000 people during the holidays. Each food bank plays a similarly critical role.

Pair that with Toys for Tots and you can see the spirit of the season at work.

You can donate new, unwrapped toys at 250 spots around the county. Volunteers will meet at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in December to sort and wrap the toys for distribution to about 3,000 local kids.

Campaign coordinator Gene Weller said folks who get involved with Toys for Tots are moved by “a love of helping folks less fortunate in our community.”

Basketball fans can support the effort by attending either of two Penn State games (Dec. 7 and 15). Bring a new toy and you get admission to a game for just $5.

Also on Dec. 7, tough-skinned folks will take the Polar Bear Plunge into the chilly waters of the lake at Bald Eagle State Park to support the Open Doors program at the YMCA of Centre County.

The Open Doors effort helps people participate in Y programs even if they can’t afford the price of a membership.

“There’s a lot of need out there for people who maybe just need a little break,” Liz Toukonen, executive director of the YMCA’s Bellefonte branch, says in Holiday Happenings.

Are you feeling thankful?

There’s a church in your neighborhood serving shut-ins, the homeless and people down on their luck.

And there’s a program in your community that is helping people who are facing hardship, and that program could benefit from your time, your talents or your resources.

Let’s show how thankful we are by reaching out to those who may be struggling.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, and share your joy with others.

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