Spirit of Christmas can be uncovered by giving to others

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2002

If you're having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit, there's an easy remedy: think of others.

For some, the next few days may be one big frenetic shopping spree and cooking fest that adds up to a joyful celebration. For others, however, the time is ripe for one big pity party.

They see others spending, spending and spending some more and realize how meager their bank account is. They hear about big family gatherings and think about how they have no one with whom to share a holiday meal. They know there is supposed to be meaning to this special season and, no matter what the size of their bank account, are confronted with their own poverty of faith.

Those who find the Christmas season not all it's hyped up perhaps should look around them.

If your savings seems scant, we're sure you can find someone with even less. In fact, the Agriculture Department reports that last year about 11.5 million U.S. households did not have enough food to meet basic needs. Those in other countries might even find you quite wealthy.

No one to share a meal with? Why not invite someone over or enjoy the community Christmas dinner scheduled for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.

Looking for meaning in the season? Churches have planned all kinds of celebrations. (For more details, see Religion briefs in the Religion Section.)

There are countless ways to get in the spirit of the season. Several area charitable organizations have last-minute needs over the holiday season. In addition to regular donations people might want to bring in, the following agencies are asking for several specific items this season, including:

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank needs canned fruit, box stuffing, gravy mix, turkeys and hams. Plus, the food bank will host a free community Christmas dinner Dec. 25 from noon until 3 p.m. at its facility, located at the intersection of Community College Drive and Kalifornsky Beach Road. For more information, call 262-3111.

The Blood Bank of the Kenai Peninsula is asking area residents to donate blood over the holiday season. As this time of year is a busy travel season, the need for blood increases dramatically. The blood bank will be closed through Dec. 25, but will reopen Dec. 26, and will remain open Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, call the blood bank at 260-5672.

The Salvation Army has had good success with its toy donation program, but is currently looking for more toy donations for next year. The Salvation Army operates a "toy and joy" shop for people with Christmas gift needs in the Old Kenai Supply building on the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. For more information, call 283-3879.

As you do your last-minute shopping, you can give both the gift of food and blood. There is a combined blood drive-food drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Peninsula Center Mall. Residents can give food or blood or both. It's a great way to show support for these two worthwhile organizations that are dependent on the community's generosity to survive.

And if you are still looking for meaning in the season, we encourage you to read the "Voices of Religion" column on page A-10 of today's paper. Surely, the meaning of Christmas is found in reaching out to others.

Our hope would be that giving of our time and money would not just be a Christmastime sort of thing. There are needs 365 days of the year. Perhaps our community New Year's resolution could be living -- and giving -- as if it were Christmas every day of the year.

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