Let your Christmas spirit shine

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The seasonable temperatures and icy winds that have blown into Barry County have brought with them more than just bitter cold. Each year, when I drag out my heavy coat, scarves and gloves, it reminds me that not only is winter upon us, but so are the holidays. When I think of Christmas, I conjure up visions of snowy landscapes, warm fires, sweet holiday treats and gift-giving events. My husband often complains about the commercialism surrounding the holidays, but I prefer to focus on the joy of giving to others. This week, I would like to offer three ideas for ways that we can all give to others this holiday season.

* The Barry County OACAC Neighborhood Center's Share Your Christmas and the Barry County Sheriff's Department's Angel Tree: Both of these programs benefit hundreds of local children each year. Without toy collecting efforts such as these, many area youngsters would wake up without gifts on Christmas morning. I can't imagine how sad that would be for a child. Christmas trees decorated with paper ornaments that offer toy suggestions are located at businesses throughout Cassville and at the sheriff's department. Share Your Christmas efforts are also conducted by the Shell Knob Alliance of Churches For more information on Share Your Christmas, call the Neighborhood Center at 847-2140 and for information on the Angel Tree project, call the sheriff's department at 847-6556.

* The Cassville Community Food Pantry: Many of us attend several holiday parties and family dinners at Christmas. Some of these fellowship events offer meals that are nearly as elaborate as Thanksgiving feasts. As we are preparing holiday dishes for upcoming activities, we must not forget those who are struggling to place an ordinary meal on the table. Many of these individuals find assistance at community food pantries, such as the one located in the Cassville United Methodist Church. The pantry is supported by the Cassville UMC congregation, members of St. Edwards Catholic Church and donations from local businesses and individuals. Monetary donations and food items are accepted by the food pantry and are be used to provide local residents in need with groceries. Food pantries are also operated by the All Faith United Methodist Church in Eagle Rock and the Centeral Community United Methodist Church in Shell Knob. For more information on the Cassville Food Pantry, call 847-2328.

* Haven of the Ozarks: Anyone who has ever had a loyal pet will tell you that they should not be forgotten during the holidays. My husband and I adopted a dog named Bruiser from the Haven several years ago. Later in life, age brought cancer to Bruiser, and we had to put him down. He was the most loving, loyal dog we had, and I know we both still miss him. The Haven is full of wonderful dogs and cats that would make great pets. I know we can't all run out and adopt an animal this Christmas, but we can show our support for the Haven, which dedicates a great deal of time and resources to care for dogs and cats without families. The animal sanctuary can always use an extra bag of dog food or monetary gifts to help with operating expenses. They are also in need of volunteers to help care for and play with the animals. If you would like to help the Haven this holiday season, give them a call at 835-3647.

There are dozens of other ways to help our fellow community members this holiday season. Whatever effort you choose, let your Christmas and giving spirit shine this December.

Lindsay Reed