A Publication of WTVP

The holiday season is upon us, and our list of things to do can seem overwhelming. But taking time for ourselves, our families, and others in need can lead to a happy and satisfying time of year.

According to recent surveys and national research, Americans felt donating their time, talents, and money to community causes made them feel richer. And who wouldn’t want to feel a bit richer during the holidays?

More and more, people are looking to their community for opportunities to give. We hear more about world peace, world hunger, and worldwide needs during the holiday season, but solutions to these problems can start right here at home. Making a difference in our own little part of the world is just the first stepping stone.

Locally, the Peoria area has several nonprofit organizations and human service agencies working year-round, focusing on the needs of individuals in our hometowns. But are annual holiday drives enough? Probably not; the challenges facing those served by these agencies must be met 12 months out of the year. While we can focus on providing food and gifts during the holidays, we must also focus on long-term needs throughout the rest of the year, such as providing meaningful employment, job training, educational assistance, and childcare.

We’re very blessed in our area to have a community of volunteers who help in any way they can if they know the need is there. This year, as in past holiday seasons, several individuals will assemble numerous food baskets, make cooked meals, purchase toys, visit with seniors, and much more. Out of our collective caring, many special holiday needs can be met.

But what can I do? What can my office do? It’s easy to find ways to give to others during this time of year. From donations to gifts of time, several opportunities await your thoughtfulness. Consider adding a volunteer event or special gift drive to your office holiday party plans or gather your family together to help other families in need. It may just be the start of a year-round giving plan.

The way we view helping others, as individuals and/or as groups, determines our community’s future. Our contributions even impact our community’s economic development, while our philanthropy and leadership assists local agencies in the way they serve our community.

It’s up to us to ask the questions about what needs to be done, and it’s up to all of us, working together, to make sure we answer these questions-not just during the holidays, but all year long. The Heart of Illinois United Way is dedicated to finding solutions in our community, and we hope others will continue to unite with us in our efforts. Here’s to a happy and rewarding holiday season. IBI