Editorial: Much to give this holiday season


Published: 12/21/2016 9:57:48 PM

If you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah this weekend, you have just a few days left to prepare.

We suspect there are many people who have not yet finished their gift shopping, and perhaps some who haven’t even started. So, to help in this season of giving, let us offer some suggestions to those who may find themselves running short of time.

For some tardy shoppers, the answers are probably close at hand. The Pioneer Valley has much to offer for those seeking just the right gift. Be it locally produced food, beer or wine, a handcrafted item like a knitted shawl, a piece of art, even furniture made locally or an item from somewhere else, there’s a store, craftsperson, artist or business nearby that can fill the bill.

Finding time for others can be a simple but valued gift: volunteering at a school, a nursing home or a community event, like one of the many local free meals for the hungry. The Valley has many organizations or groups that could use a helping hand.

Organizers of the MANNA Soup Kitchen Christmas dinner in Northampton are seeking volunteers to help Sunday. The meal will be served at noon in the fellowship hall at Edwards Church, 297 Main St.

Volunteers will help with preparing the meal, setting up the dining room and serving pork loin, potatoes, apple sauce, salad, pumpkin pie and other desserts. Volunteers will also deliver meals to homebound people in Northampton, Easthampton, Hatfield and Westhampton.

People may sign up to volunteer by calling 413-588-2333.

A gift might be a cash donation in the name of the person you’re planning to surprise. From animal shelters to nonprofit agencies that advocate for a specific cause or provide a service to a segment of the community in need, all could use a little extra financial help.

This includes the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund sponsored by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, which provides Christmas gifts for area children who otherwise would have few, if any, holiday presents.

This is the 84th year for the Toy Fund, and as of Wednesday afternoon, more than $57,000 had been raised. People give for many reasons, and find creative ways to seek donations. Earlier this week the Gazette wrote about students at the R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence who wore pajamas to class to encourage donations, and raised $300.

The Toy Fund provides vouchers worth $40 for eligible children. Last year $77,830 was raised. People may contribute by mailing or dropping off a check at the Gazette, 115 Conz St., Northampton, 01060, or online at toyfund.gazettenet.com.

Even if you’re not necessarily a “joiner,” there are ways to give your time. In the simplest way, it can mean reaching out to a friend or neighbor to ask if he or she needs something at the grocery store or a walk shoveled. Or it could just be a willingness to listen.

As Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

Let the words of Thomas S. Monson be a guide. The president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints said, “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”

While Monson is speaking about Christmas, his words transcend personal religious beliefs and can apply to any holiday you might be observing this season.

Time may be short, but there is much that we can give.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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