Spreading holiday cheer

The beginning of generosity begins by noticing the needs of people around you. Our Herald readers have proven year after year that they notice and respond by supporting programs such as The Herald's Empty Stocking Fund.

The Empty Stocking Fund has been a conduit between families in crisis and our caring and compassionate community since the early 1980s. The ESF has evolved over the years from passing out toys and candy to children, to providing food and $10 gift cards to parents for the kids, to sending checks to local agencies that have been inundated with families that desperately want their children to have a merry Christmas.

It is gratifying to see how my neighbors take action when The Herald publishes stories about families who are struggling with unemployment, under-employment, domestic abuse and illness during the Christmas season. The day after one of these stories appears, the mailbox is full of checks. Even when our simple ESF house ads are published, they produce a bounty of cash and checks for the kids.

The contributions to ESF come in many sizes and shapes. There are envelopes with checks that have three zeros on them; there are Christmas cards with $2 in cash tucked inside; companies send checks in honor of employees, and employees send cash in a tribute to their great bosses; motorcycle clubs pony up cash after a toy run, and children bring in their piggy bank savings.

The accounting system for ESF is pretty simple. Every dollar received, with the exception of our annual payment for our P.O. box, ends up with families who need help providing Christmas for their kids.

On behalf of all kids who will benefit from your generosity, thank you and Merry Christmas!