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Let’s work to continue holiday generosity year-round

By Christine Imming

United Way of Southwest Colorado

During the holiday season, many people feel moved to reach out to those in the community who are less fortunate. Inspired by the season of giving, special celebrations and gratitude for the good things in life, many give to others by volunteering their time or making a donation to an organization near and dear to their heart.

Some may choose to ring the bell next to a Salvation Army red kettle or donate money to a specific organization such as the American Red Cross. Others may buy presents for children whose names were chosen off a Project Merry Christmas tree.

I have even heard stories of people approaching complete strangers and handing them an envelope with a $10 bill inside with a holiday greeting written on the outside. People give freely during the months of November and December, and generosity is present everywhere.

As a community, we need to remember that “need” is illuminated during the holiday months but is ever present throughout the year. It has been unusually cold the last few weeks, and some people may not have a warm place to sleep. Some are hungry and don’t have enough to eat.

Others may worry about how to pay their rent or child care after missing work because they had the flu or how increased heating bills will be paid to stay warm. These are just a few examples of what is happening every day in La Plata County.

Fortunately, there are amazing organizations ready to help any day of the year. Volunteers of America Durango Community Shelter provides a warm place to sleep during the freezing cold and below-zero nights. Manna Soup Kitchen provides hot meals daily, and Community Emergency Assistance Coalition meets weekly to consider applications for emergency financial assistance.

These agencies are just three of the 50 partner agencies United Way of Southwest Colorado supports through annual grants with money raised in La Plata, Archuleta, Montezuma and Dolores counties.

With monetary donations as well as volunteer time, United Way and other organizations continue to help those in need throughout the year, and without continued support, they would not be able to serve as many people.

I have a challenge for the La Plata County community; Let us continue giving throughout the year whenever inspiration strikes and see what effect we can have. Some may give back to others because once they were the recipient of a much-needed gift. Maybe it’s because they believe in the work or mission of a particular organization.

Whatever the reason for giving, remember that people are in need every day, and your support does make a difference. Choose your favorite organization and write a check, donate items such as coats and blankets, or volunteer your time and continue the holiday generosity all year long.

Christine Imming is finance director of United Way of Southwest Colorado.