Better economic times have not reached all corners of society, let alone in one of the poorest big cities in the nation. Families are still struggling, with breadwinners living paycheck to paycheck and, in some cases, holding down two and three jobs.
Readers of this newspaper have sympathized — sometimes cried — over heart-rending stories of children who go without gifts at Christmas time. Even worse, some go without enough food. Even those parents and guardians fully employed but working at or just above minimum wage can find themselves heading food-insecure households.
Each one of us can do something to help these families; to help these children at a potentially fragile time of the year. It is difficult to watch television commercials hawking gifts when you have no tree.
For all these reasons and more, we hope that all who can will give to the News Neediest Fund. In its 37th year, the fund allows Western New Yorkers to help their neighbors by ensuring a merrier Christmas.
Last year, 8,300 gift items were distributed to families. United Way of Erie County President Michael Weiner touted the program’s value “because it can help the more than 60 percent of families in Buffalo who are facing financial hardship.”
Monetary donations helped feed families. This year’s drive has already begun with $52,000. Last year’s gifts of money totaled $164,000. Organizers encourage donors to give early, especially gifts, though it is never too late to send in cash offerings.
The News Neediest Fund is part of the Western New York Holiday Partnership, a collaboration of toy giveaway programs in Erie and Niagara counties and involves partners such as the United Way, Food Bank of Western New York, Olmsted Center for Sight, Wegmans, Benderson Development, Fisher Price, Dipson Theatres and Toys For Tots. The effort involves more than 20 nonprofits.
Donors are always generous when it comes to gifts for young children, but it’s important not to forget the older ones, ages 8-12. For them, good ideas include books, arts and crafts kits, board games, gift certificates, jewelry, hair accessories, DVDs, skateboards and video games.
Donations of cash will help to buy food for families who would otherwise have no special meal on Christmas.
Information about how to apply to receive the gifts, and application locations is available by calling 211 or 888-696-9211. The deadline to apply is Dec. 7.
Cash donations can be made online at buffalonews.com/newsneediest or by mail to The News Neediest Fund, P.O. Box 2667, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240-9873.
Gifts of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at: The Buffalo News lobby; Wegmans; Shea’s Performing Arts Center; Erie County Fairgrounds Festival of Lights; Mattress Firm (all Western New York locations); Hunt Real Estate’s Western New York offices; Jim Murphy Buick/GMC (3000 Walden Ave., Depew); Excuria Salon & Spa (5725 Main St., Williamsville); Canisius College Koessler Athletic Center (1829 Main St.); and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots” locations (see list at buffalo-ny.toysfortots.org). More information is at buffalonews.com/newsneediest.
It’s not for nothing this is called the City of Good Neighbors. Buffalonians and all Western New Yorkers are renowned for their generosity. That’s always valuable, but never so predictably as over the next few weeks. Please give.