Helping others, a holiday tradition


It’s a season when attention turns to charity, to the needs of friends and neighbors.

It’s the season when the injunction to treat others as you would be treated, to love others as you would be loved, takes on a more immediate and clear meaning.

This time of year, the problems suffered by others, and most visibly by fellow Pagosans, assume extra weight. It is a holiday season, a time to reflect on one’s blessings, a time to take comfort in family and the fellowship offered by friends — a time to feast, to give gifts, in particular to our young ones, and to relish and reinforce community.

So, it is a time for an upswing in charitable activity. Not for the overblown, look-at-me charity indulged by some, but for quietly providing what we can, so the way for others is eased, if but for a moment or two.

Pagosa Country has long provided a sterling example of this type of community spirit, in particular during the holidays. The generosity of Pagosans is impressive and this season should be no different, despite the ongoing negative impact of the overall economy and, thus far, a meager winter that has kept our visitor numbers at a minimum.

Numerous charitable organizations, secular and faith-based, collect donations of money, gift items and food to disperse to those in need this time of year.

The Salvation Army bell ringers have set up their kettle at the entry to the City Market store, and the Salvation Army has shouldered the lion’s share of the organized local effort. For weeks, the Angel Tree program had tags available on a tree at City Market, the tags listing gifts for Pagosa residents — in particular Pagosa’s children. The Salvation Army kettle program collects money to support the Angel Tree program, with money from the kettle used to purchase items on the tags left uncollected by local residents. Money from donations to the kettle also purchases the food items for Christmas meal boxes. This year, there were 350 gift requests submitted to Salvation Army and at least 180 local families will receive the Christmas meal boxes.

The work is not over and the need has not been extinguished. Pagosans can still help as the season peaks: put a few more bucks in the kettle — the donation is always welcome.

The holiday effort marshals many resources. Local food banks — at Community United Methodist Church, John Paul II Catholic Church and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church — provide emergency food supplies year-round and are called on during this season. Donations of non-perishable foods keep the food banks stocked and ready to help those in need. Any food items left over from the Salvation Army Christmas meal box stocks will go to the food banks. Other organizations and businesses held drives to benefit the food banks.

Local businesses have been active in the charitable effort. Among them, Dollar General held a toy drive, with the donations sent to the Angel Tree project. Wyndham is sponsoring 50-60 families for gifts this year.

There is another potential gift for the community, and Pagosa Country residents can help bring that gift here by taking a moment of their time to cast a vote. There is a chance two school district programs (Destination Imagination, and Check and Connect) could receive valuable Clorox Company Power a Bright Future grants as part of a contest/poll underway until Dec.19. See the article in this week’s SUN for more details, vote when possible; get friends and neighbors to vote. A grant, or two, would be the ultimate stocking stuffer for local students this holiday season, supporting two outstanding, creative programs in Archuleta District 50 Jt.

Karl Isberg