By editorial board • 

The many avenues for giving at this time of year to those in need

This time of year, giving comes naturally.

Most of us know of and support causes that are important, either seasonally or year-round. Numerous local groups are in need of help at any time, but the call to give moves to the forefront during the holiday season.

Messages about the many opportunities for giving in our midst regularly come to our attention at the News-Register, and we make a point of passing them along to readers.

Ways to help might originate from two different avenues, though at times they could well overlap: One way to view it is like the scene in “A Christmas Carol” (on stage now at McMinnville’s Gallery Theater) when Scrooge comes face to face with Ignorance and Want – represented by children, as scourges they endure. He is horrified at what he sees as the fate of humankind’s most vulnerable. The other is to view it through the eyes of Scrooge’s nephew, Fred: Christmas, he proclaims, “is a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

In Yamhill County, we are surrounded by ways to help meet immediate needs. Prominent, but not alone, is the ongoing need to support local food banks. These services are accomplished in a variety of settings throughout the county, mostly coordinated by Yamhill Community Action Partnership. The cupboards are always in need of replenishment, and it can be done via cash or food donations. YCAP.org/donations is a core location for ongoing giving at a variety of levels. For example, $100 pays for car insurance for a low-income person, and $25 buys 17 cans of diced tomatoes.

In our pages, we run a seasonal listing, “Holiday Giving,” and have introduced a new, year-round platform, “Ways To Help,” in which nonprofits may provide basics of how people can sign up, donate, or otherwise assist in that group’s endeavors. These fill needs that sometimes are severe and emergent – and do so through, as Dickens wrote, “in the long calendar of the year.”

Giving can be surely fun, as evidenced by these efforts, and the many holiday bazaars and fairs continuing between now and Christmas. Many such events feature nonprofits and organizations raising money for their work. And vendors who are themselves bread-winners and employers. Supporting local bazaars is a simple, and often affordable, way to help local groups serve the underprivileged and, of course, to fill your gift list.

“You don’t have to go too far or spend that much to have a great time,” is how Cassidy Huston put it, following the Bazaar at the Bayou she coordinated on Nov. 18-19 at the new nonprofit venue Happy Acres @ the Bayou. She said she and the numerous vendors appreciated the wide community support at the event. “It was more than shopping, but something to do with others in the community,” she said, noting that many vendors are hobbyists for whom selling their wares is their sole source of income.

Whether you are supporting a local craft fair or donating to a nonprofit, a small gift here or there can be a major help. Giving trees, pre-wrapped grocery bags at local stores, and gift card campaigns are a few examples of ways to touch a life in a meaningful way for less than about $25. Other simple measures are to get your photo or your pet’s taken with Santa, support a local group by signing up for a monthly automatic donation from your bank account, or respond to a neighbor’s initiative, like the one Paislee Newcomb recently led. The seven-year-old McMinnville girl did her fourth annual donation drive last month, a pickup load of blankets, hygiene items and more goods. It all went to the Yamhill Gospel Rescue Mission, which provides shelter and resources to the homeless. Such generosity starts as the power of one but becomes the work of the many.

In the Yuletide “Dolce Domum” hapter of the classic Kenneth Grahame story, “The Wind in the Willows,” friends communally procure a feast from what seemed like “a barren board” as “everybody was set to do something or fetch something. In a very few minutes, supper was ready …”

The tale rests not simply on an affection for hearth and sweet home, but as an allegory for the greater capacities of community.

Giving, when and as we can, exercises our ability to rally provisions in a time of need, an answer to the basic human instinct to work together to make things warmer, more comforting, more welcoming.

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