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When there is need, we rally

The holidays are ahead, occasions when we enjoy the company of family and friends and the plenty that is typical of the time.

As the season approaches, we need to remember that many of our neighbors in Pagosa Country are not blessed with all that is necessary for a positive holiday experience; times have been tough, and there are many people who are barely getting by. For them, the holidays can be difficult.

It is time to help, and this community is known for the fact that assistance is there when required. Every year, the residents of Pagosa Country step up to provide items for those in need.

For 20 years, Operation Helping Hand, in conjunction with the Department of Human Services, provided the gateway for donations to residents in Pagosa Country whose fortunes had waned, and a system for dispersing items to those who needed them prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now, Operation Helping Hand is no more and its efforts have, at least in part, passed to other people and organizations. Last year, Operation Helping Hand assisted 306 families with gifts, clothing, food and gift cards. This year, it is hard to imagine fewer families and individuals needing a hand up.

For the Thanksgiving holiday, Community United Methodist Church and Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church are combining forces to provide food boxes — this in addition to the local food bank program. Donations to support these efforts are valuable. The Department of Human Services is processing applications for the Thanksgiving food box program. Proceeds from Saturday’s Empty Bowls event at the high school will go to the food banks, so attend if you can.

The Christmas food program has been taken over by Salvation Army. Local volunteers created the “Bring Christmas Back to the Table” program to provide food boxes to locals. The program will put a barrel at the entrance of City Market starting Nov. 29 in which donations for the boxes can be placed. Another drop-off location for food items will be placed at Our Savior Lutheran Church, located just south of U.S. 160 on Meadows Drive.

Items requested for donation at the drop-off locations include canned green beans, canned yams and cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, instant mashed potatoes, brownies and Christmas candies. Turkeys will be purchased and included in the boxes.

Monetary donations can be made to the Salvation Army project for help with the purchase of turkeys and extra items. Checks can be mailed to Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1567, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Several local churches will provide special envelopes for anyone who wishes to make a donation.

Volunteer help is needed for the Salvation Army program, including assistance for assembly of the boxes Dec. 15-18 at the Extension Building. Julie Church, 264-4465, is the contact person.

The Pagosa Springs Rotary Club is conducting a drive to collect games that will be wrapped and included in the food boxes. An article in this week’s SUN details the types of games sought and gives drop-off locations for games, as well as contact numbers for more information.

Local Realtors and their association are pitching in again this season with their Bucks for Bikes program —providing bicycles to youngsters who otherwise would not have them. Members of the association and sponsors provide many of the donations needed to purchase new bikes, but tax-deductible donations from other members of the community are needed. Last year, 34 kids received new bikes and the goal this year is to raise $5,000 for purchases. Checks made payable to Bucks for Bikes can be mailed to the Pagosa Springs Area Association of Realtors, 190 Talisman Drive, No. D-5, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 or dropped off at the office. The donation deadline is Nov. 19.

When there is a need, Pagosa rallies. If you can, do your part for your neighbors this holiday season by contributing funds, food and time to one of these worthy programs.