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The Editorial Board: News Neediest Fund needs your help as the pandemic keeps families on edge

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Presents under the tree (copy)

Charter School for Applied Technologies kindergarten students Daniel Miranda and Tsion Gebremeskel help place presents beneath the tree at the kickoff of The Buffalo News' 40th annual News Neediest Fund drive.

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The pandemic has ravaged household budgets but, this being Western New York, those who are able have given generously to their neighbors. That generosity seems baked into the region’s DNA. Now, as the News Neediest Fund launches into its 40th year to help support families during the holidays with food and toys, it is asking once again that people with means dig deep.

Last year, the Neediest campaign reached more than 8,000 children with toy donations and helped households across our region with a holiday meal by raising $310,000 that goes directly to FeedMore WNY. The 2020 effort became one of the most successful Neediest Fund drives in decades. Last year’s support also provided nearly 20,000 meals to households across our region.

As of Nov. 23, this year’s drive had raised $54,000 in monetary donations.

Rising inflation along with increasing numbers of Covid-related hospitalizations continue to keep families on financial edge. The traditions of holiday cheer, food and festivities ask us to pitch in.

The number of help wanted signs has not spurred economic growth in the local economy. As The News’ David Robinson recently wrote, citing data released by the state Labor Department, the Buffalo Niagara region has not added new jobs since July. The result is continuing repercussions from the crushing job losses caused by the Covid-19 lockdown. It is another example why it is important to give, especially at this time of year.

The News Neediest Fund combines the resources of the Western New York Holiday Partnership, a collaboration of toy giveaway programs in Erie and Niagara counties. It also brings together partners including the United Way, FeedMore WNY, Visually Impaired Advancement, 2-1-1, Wegmans, Benderson Development, National Grid, Fisher Price and Toys for Tots. In total, the effort involves more than 20 nonprofits.

Here are some gift recommendations from the drive’s organizers.

For older kids, ages 8-12, consider gifts of books, arts-and-crafts kits, board games, gift certificates, jewelry, hair accessories, skateboards and pro sports merchandise. Gifts should be new and unwrapped.

Don’t forget about Christmas dinner and the cash needed to purchase food for families for a 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 for those applications is Dec. 3.

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 will be accepted at:

• The Buffalo News: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

• All area Wegmans locations

• Shea’s Performing Arts Center box office, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

• U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots locations, see list at buffalo-ny.toysfortots.org.

• Excuria Salon & Spa.

• Jim Murphy Buick/GMC.

• Valu Home Centers.

• Fairgrounds Festival of Lights.

• Hunt Real Estate Corp.

• Canisius College: Drop off at Koessler Athletic Center during scheduled basketball games.

• Orville’s Home Appliances.

• Newsworthy Store (Near Panera Bread in the Boulevard Consumer Square, 1593 Niagara Falls Blvd.)

The economic recovery has been elusive. Concerns about Covid-19 continue with recent alarming hospitalization rates and breakthrough cases. Times have gotten harder for many and, because of that, families in need require our warmhearted generosity. Please give.

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What’s your opinion? Send it to us at lettertoeditor@buffnews.com. Letters should be a maximum of 300 words and must convey an opinion. The column does not print poetry, announcements of community events or thank you letters. A writer or household may appear only once every 30 days. All letters are subject to fact-checking and editing.

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"It's a program like this that makes a difference, particularly during the holidays to help those families most in need," said Michael Weiner, president and CEO of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

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