This is the most wonderful time of the year. It's that special time when families gather around the fireplace with hot chocolate or hot-spice cider to celebrate Christmas, a time to share our bounty with our loved ones. It's also a time to decorate our homes inside and out with colorful lights, Santa, reindeer, and nativity scenes. Every house will sparkle with twinkling lights, some more elaborate then others, but beautiful in every way.

While driving around town to see how many people had begun decorating their homes, I noticed a little girl running around the yard in her shirtsleeves. It was far too cold to be outside without a warm coat. Her mother finally came out and grabbed the little girl and took her inside where it was warm. It made me think about the many children who may need a good winter coat or jacket?

We go about our busy lives without a thought to those who don't even have the essentials of life, especially during the winter months. We are fortunate to have warm clothes, hot meals, and friends to share our holidays. But, what about the people who are in need, what do they have to eat, and do they have the proper clothes to keep them warm?

These are questions that always weigh heavy on my mind during the holidays. I want to help.

There is a lot we can do! We can donate our used jackets for those who may need a warm coat for the winter. The Agape House needs all they can get this time of year. They also need warm blankets. Whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated.

You will see Christmas Caring Trees at many area businesses, where you can place an unwrapped gift under the tree for a child who may not receive a gift if we don't help. While you are shopping, pick up a couple of extra presents to put under the tree. And don't forget that it is not only the small children that need gifts; there are a lot of older teens that could use our help as well. Santa wants to have a gift for every child under the tree.

When you are doing your grocery shopping buy two or three extra cans of food and place them in the barrels at the front of each store. These canned foods will be the foundation of the food baskets that Santa will take to many deserving families, to make sure there is a hot meal waiting for them on Christmas.

The police and firemen will pick up all the donations and volunteers will make beautiful baskets of food and toys for families in need. There are a lot of families that need our help this year, so don't be shy, donate whenever you see a barrel or a Caring Tree.

To make sure Santa has enough time to deliver all the baskets before Christmas, it is important to make your donations early, so the elves will have lots of time to fill them all with food and toys.

For those who would rather donate cash, it will be used to buy the hams and turkeys that are needed for the Christmas baskets.

Don't forget the elderly living in the nursing homes and assisted living homes in our area, they need company and would love to hear some carolers singing their favorite Christmas songs. Christmas is for the young and the young at heart.

Let's all pitch in and make this the best Christmas ever.

Betty Kuhn, of Boardman, can be contacted at bkuhn_1@Msn.com or the East Oregonian, P.O. Box 1089, Pendleton, OR 97801.

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