Still time to give before Christmas

Published 8:48 am Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The culmination of the holiday season is approaching quickly, but there is still some time to give back to those in need.

If you are looking for ways to help people in need, either with your time, your talents or monetary donations, there are many groups in Clark County helping others right up until Christmas Day, and sometimes beyond.

Here are some of those organizations (but certainly not all of them).

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— Operation Happiness: Since the 1970s, members of the Winchester-Clark County community have banded together to provide coats and food to the neediest members of the community.

Originally started by the Clark County Association of Churches, Operation Happiness has grown into a large annual event organized by Clark County Community Services and hosted by Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Lexington Road.

The annual Day of Giving, where food boxes and coats will be handed out to about 1,200 families, will be Wednesday.

Volunteers are needed every year beginning in November to help collect donations, sign families up for the program, sort donations and work the Day of Giving. After the Day of Giving, volunteers are also needed to assist with delivering bulk items to places like the local homeless shelters and assisted living communities.

— Angel Trees: Each year local organizations, including schools, businesses and churches, gather names of children and elderly people in need around the holidays. The names are distributed through Angel Tree programs, where willing volunteers purchase needs, like coats, clothes and shoes and even wishes, like toys, robes or other personal care items.

These programs operate by anonymity and many local families will select more than one “angel” to provide for.

This year we have heard of several businesses that sponsored children on Angel Trees instead of doing office gift exchanges. Others have asked guests at their annual Christmas party to donate toward the cause or bring a specific item to complete the wish lists.

The need is great around the holidays, and Richard Brantigan, who helps coordinate the St. Vincent De Paul Angel Tree program at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, describes this need well.

“There’s just so many people with so many needs,” Brantigan said. “Christmas time is hard for people. The cost of living goes up, the cost of feeding children over the break increases.”

These programs require not only community members who select “angels,” but volunteers who can wrap and distribute the gifts, man drop off sites or even offer monetary donations to meet other program needs.

— Toy drives: The Clark County Fire Department collects toys every winter to distribute to local children in need. Firefighters crammed a fire engine full of toys in November to be distributed this month. The department will still accept some donations at fire houses.

The Winchester Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police have annual cram the cruiser drives to raise toys and money for gifts. A cruiser is currently parked outside the Clark County Courthouse Annex for donations.

The Rocky Mountain Horse Association is collecting food, clothes, toys and coats for families in need throughout Appalachia through Wednesday. Donations can be made at the RHMA office at 71 South Main St.

ems needed are nonperishable food items, non-broken toys and clean coats in good shape.

— Food banks: If you are not able to donate toys, time or money, consider purchasing a few non-perishable food items to be donated to a local food bank.

These items will not only help put a warm meal on the table on Christmas day, but will help parents and families struggling to meet food needs while students are out on holiday break. Many seniors also face food shortages in the winter months when utilities costs are higher and illness is more rampant, requiring more medications.

Christmas is less than a week away and while we rush about tying up our loose ends on gifts, celebrations and family dinners, let’s not forget to stop and help our neighbors who are in need.