Help lines up: Anticipating the season of giving

The holiday lighting ceremonies in our communities (details on page A1) are truly something to look forward to, for the enjoyment they provide and the way they bring communities together.

There is much to do at these events, and organizers put a great deal of giving spirit into holiday lights events staged for the public to enjoy.

And this is the time of year to let other lights shine as well:

n For starters, the annual Hood River Christmas Project drive is under way, and it can always use more help in its intensive efforts to collect toys and groceries for needy families and seniors in Hood River County. It’s all gearing up for Dec. 21-22 distribution, a week later than years past.

Christmas Project is a true community project that serves thousands of needy people each year, and it relies on people who are willing to give of their time and energy. Volunteers are needed to help with registration and other tasks. If you want to get involved, or you need the project’s help, turn to page B7 for details. Food donation barrels are located all over the county, as an example of just one easy way to help.

n Meanwhile, Hood River Valley High School students are preparing for their annual, and expansive, canned food drive for FISH and the Christmas Project. The school will stage its annual food drive rally on Friday, and history shows us that the students enjoy both competing with each other and knowing that they are serving a bigger purpose. Be prepared for yet another energetic food drive over the next two weeks; have some cans, or a few dollars, ready when a team of smiling teens comes to your door or works a shift in front of a local supermarket.

n Stores have already started stockpiling $10 and $15 grocery bags you can buy and leave as donations to the food bank. The bags are stored and distributed for the holidays.

n The Hood River Warming Shelter is back for its fourth season, providing a place to stay on a cold night. What started out as a freezing-nights-only endeavor shifted in 2011 to seven nights a week from December to March, increasing the need for volunteers and donations. Under the guidance of a hard-working local committee, the shelter is gearing up for its 2012 start on Saturday. Six Hood River churches take turns throughout the winter, for a week at a time, hosting the shelter.

An old Christmas song talks of joy and substance in “bleak midwinter,” but that phrase is not always a poetic one, for as it describes daily reality and for the hungry and homeless among our neighbors.

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