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Editorial: It's time to help

The holiday season is upon us, and it is a time when people shop, prepare festive dinners and get together with family and friends. It’s also a time to consider those who are less fortunate.

Not everyone has a place to live, or enough money to feed a family, or buy their children Christmas presents. Sometimes the basics are the very things missing, and if someone would just lend a hand through gift or donation, it could make a difference. It isn’t hard to imagine how much compassion means to someone in need. Evidence is printed in these pages on a regular basis.

The 38th News Neediest Fund’s purpose is to help individuals and families, but that cannot happen without the public. It’s heartening that fundraising, which produced $150,000 last year, is off to a strong start with $52,000 committed, even before the drive officially began. The hope is to exceed the 2018 campaign, when more than 7,600 toys were donated to children 12 and under and more than 5,400 families were helped.

The fund needs those with the means to donate unwrapped toys or a few dollars – or both.

The News Neediest Fund is part of the Western New York Holiday Partnership, a collaboration of toy giveaway programs in Erie and Niagara counties. It brings together partners including 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.

Many of us are fortunate enough to have grown up with toys underneath the Christmas tree but that is not every child’s reality, and especially not in what remains one of the poorest big cities in the nation.

Nonprofits serving those in need on a year-round basis have observed the changing faces of those standing in line at the soup kitchens. It could be any one of us struck by hard times. Even one toy or small monetary gift could make the difference.

Michael Weiner, president and CEO of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, a major partner in the campaign, said it best: “With all the distractions going on, it’s a great time to step back and celebrate what we do have and the fact that we have a community that cares.”

Here’s how to give to the News Neediest Fund:

Remember the older kids, ages 8-12. Pack their gift bags with books, arts and crafts kits, board games, gift certificates, jewelry, hair accessories, DVDs, skateboards and video games.
Don’t forget about Christmas dinner and the cash needed to buy food for families for that special meal.

Information about how to apply to receive the gifts, and application locations is available by calling 211 or 888-696-9211 or text your ZIP code to 898-211. The deadline to apply is Dec. 6.

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; 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. during scheduled games); Valu Home Centers (all Western New York locations); and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve “Toys for Tots” locations (see list at buffalo-ny.toysfortots.org). More information is at BuffaloNews.com/newsneediest.

Let’s make this year, going into 2020, joyous for all our neighbors by giving an unwrapped present or a gift of money.

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