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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Well, at least for some, that is.

Every year, thousands of people aren't able to participate in the festivities of the holiday season because they simply can't afford to. The wonderful tradition of a big holiday feast, presents around the tree and a brightly decorated home are things many of us take for granted.

Instead of sitting at home this holiday season, thinking of all the great gifts we are going to get, we should reach out a hand and help those in need. Things as simple as donating a toy that no one uses to a worthy cause or dropping some extra change in a collection bin can really brighten someone's day. There are many different organizations in our community that donate time and effort to good causes.

Area schools have been doing things such as canned food and clothing drives. Whether you have just entered kindergarten or you're a high school senior, it doesn't take much work to bring in a can of beans that no one in your family is going to eat any way.

Amanda Wyzkowski, an eighth-grader at JFK Middle School, said students in her school prepared a luncheon for the teachers. The money they raised goes to feed two needy families on Christmas in the Cheektowaga community. JFK, like many other schools, offers a discount on school dance tickets if a canned good is brought in.

Some schools offer rewards to encourage kids to bring in items for the needy. Amanda Maute, of the East Aurora school district, said, "Each homeroom brings in as many articles of clothing or toys as they can. Then at the end of the drive, the homeroom with the largest contribution, receives a pizza party."

What about outside of school? The Comaratta family of Amherst has found a way to get the whole family involved in the true spirit of the holiday season. Every winter, they sponsor a different family. They find out the kids' names, ages and clothing sizes. "The kids and I go out and buy them gifts such as pajamas, coats, hats, toys, clothing and gift certificates to buy groceries. We then come home and wrap all the presents," says Kate Comaratta.

When we look beyond our own wants, we can see what others truly need. Some families can barely afford to keep food on the table or clothing on their backs. So, the next time you think of that $75 sweater you want, think of that little boy who longs for just one jacket to keep.

Rebecca Haderer is a sophomore at West Seneca East High School.