A Publication of WTVP

The holidays are here, and it's the season of giving. From family and friends to co-workers and neighbors, everyone is out shopping for that certain something sure to bring a smile to everyone on our list. While many of us can feel overwhelmed by the holiday season, it's also the time to look towards our community and its needs for the upcoming year.

Charitable giving often starts during the holidays. We hear about so many in need as the year comes to an end and as we have our last chance to make a tax deduction. But the need doesn't stop when the clock rolls over to 2005. Making a difference year-round, in our own little part of the world, is a great way to open our hearts to others.

Bringing holiday joy to those in need and passing that lesson on to our youth is one of the greatest gifts we can provide now and to future generations. Learning that giving back doesn't mean just money is equally important. From a warm pair of gloves to reading to local children, there's so much we can do now and throughout the year. It's all about giving of our time, talents, and resources.

Locally, we have several nonprofit organizations and human service agencies that help others in need all year long. Are annual holiday drives enough? Probably not. The challenges facing those served by these agencies must be met 12 months out of the year by providing meaningful employment, job training, educational assistance, and childcare.

But you may ask, "What can I do? or "What can my office do?" 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 help others, individually or collectively, determines our area's future. The Heart of Illinois United Way is dedicated to finding solutions in our community-not just during the month of December, but year-round.

People helping people: that's what matters. Here's to a happy, healthy, and rewarding holiday season. IBI