This morning, many in our area will dive head-first into the Christmas shopping season, after having spent Thanksgiving day reflecting on more blessings than can be counted.
Black Friday deals will tempt shoppers to arrive at stores in the wee hours - many are there as you read this - in search of the perfect gifts at the lowest prices.
But for those who may spend Thanksgiving without the bounty many of us will enjoy, Black Friday could be just another reminder the coming holidays won't be all they would wish for themselves and their families.
At many stores and shopping centers, volunteers at booths, tables, collection kettles or large donation boxes will provide plenty of ways for shoppers to give what may be a little to them - but will mean a lot to the less fortunate. Organizations and some businesses mount special campaigns to help the needy during the holidays, with everything from toys for the children to delicious holiday meals.
Keep these campaigns in mind during the Black Friday madness, and for the next few weeks. If you have saved a bundle on gifts for your own friends and family, consider placing some of that extra cash into a Salvation Army red kettle or giving it to another charitable organization. If a "gift tree" type program is available, take a name from it and include that person - perhaps a child - in your Christmas shopping plan. If you find a must-have toy at a great price, buy one or two extras and hand them off to a group dedicated to making youngsters' holidays bright.
Organizations and businesses all over our area give us a chance, year after year, to help the less fortunate. They make it easy and convenient for us to share the love and kindness that is supposed to define the season. They've done all the hard work, but they can't complete the job without the smallest of efforts from us. Please help.