A Publication of WTVP

The holiday season is upon us, and our list of things to do will soon begin to grow. But as we hurry through holiday events and shopping, we should take time to remember the importance of our families and community. According to recent national surveys, Americans feel that donating time and money to their community makes them feel richer—something we could all use during the holiday season and throughout the year.

More and more, people are looking to their own community for opportunities to give. During the holidays, we hear even more about worldwide needs, but it doesn’t take long to realize that solutions to these problems begin right here at home. Making a difference in our own part of the world is the first stepping stone.

Locally, the Peoria area has many nonprofit organizations and human service agencies working year-round, focusing on the needs of individuals in our hometown, and annual holiday drives are not enough to support their year-round efforts. The challenges facing the individuals 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 are very blessed to have a community of volunteers who will help in any way they can if they know the need is present. This year, as in past holiday seasons, several individuals will assemble numerous food baskets, deliver home-cooked meals, purchase toys, visit with seniors and much, much more. Many special holiday needs can be met by our collective caring.

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

The way we view helping others collectively determines our community’s future. Our contributions impact the community’s economic development while our philanthropy and leadership assists local agencies in the ways they serve our community.

It is up to us to ask the questions about what needs to be done, and it is up to us to work together to make sure the questions are answered—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 that others will continue to unite with us in our efforts. Here’s to a happy and rewarding holiday season! IBI